Wilco is a great band because each member is not only highly skilled but also amazingly in sync with the overall feel of group. Their individual flavor never disrupts their group dynamic allowing their energy to ebb and flow with all elements in full blend. Their new album The Whole Love is a testament to their awesomeness.
The album begins with “Art of Almost.” It has distinct drums adorned with muted atmospherics like sounds of water drops. Jeff Tweedy seethes regret, while engaging the audience over piano and bass-led rhythm. It’s incredibly fast and metal- like. It has been too long since hardcore rocking like that made an appearance. “I Might” follows, featuring organs and a Beatles-like calm, permeated by an upbeat rhythm and an easygoing, balanced sound. Classic rock influences run throughout the album as subtle homage and we like.
Harmonious guitars and vocals power “Sunloathe,” delivering a highly relaxed, soothing and even audio-poetical work that feels like the recitation of a dream with stanzas “Leave my misery; it’s either all or nothing.” It sounds beautiful, especially when a 60′s inspired guitar chimes in with Pink Floydish slow-developing drums.
The vocals open “Dawned on Me.” A good presence of steady drums and guitars is present and the tone is comparable to the first song only more contemporary. “Black Moon” has a Calexico/Elliot Smith type quality to it. There’s organic guitar and melancholy vocals singing “I was always right about the morning. OK, I’m an old shoe.” Both songs are about reflection.
“Born Alone” rockets along with steady drums over long electric woes. There’s a nice tempo break up, alternating between faster and shorter beats, followed by longer slower guitars. “I was born to die alone” laments the vocalist. The track is full of great guitar fills and kick ass drumming.
Another narrative-driven song is “Open Mind.” The lead shares pines for a golden-haired girl who he’d love to get with, if only she were not defiant. The song is slow, reflective and organic. “Capitol City” is about a guy living in a big city who first wishes his lady was with him but then changes his mind to being with her in the country for the air is better their and she would not like it in the city. This is recited to a 60′s era guitar. The song is easy breezy, calm and has a good tempo with a jazzy texture.
“Standing O” is almost punk while still sounding a bit like The Animals or The Doors due to their piano use and lyrics like “I’ll be fine, I won’t follow you home.” “Whole Love” is a sad track with organic guitars and melancholy singing “How long does it take for us to know? Fix for the fits come listen to this… kiss over the phone”. It has a surfer-like Calexico type finish.
The album ends with “One Sunday Morning,” which rolls around with very pleasant organic guitars and deeper vocals. Light chiming bell sounds come in as the singer speaks of his father’s lessons to his son about being a man and the life lessons he will have to learn. It’s a bit of a sad song but respectful and honoring of his dad.
In an age dominated by pop flavored rock, real classical talent is hard to come by, especially under a modern cloak. The current trend in music is to be less musical and more synthetic, which is fine but when a band like Wilco comes along, it’s is an amazing realization that there is very little old school talent left and we miss it, deeply. Even if the tone of Wilco is somewhat mature, the youngest of real music fans can appreciate the skills and the resulting sound of the group.
out of 5
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