As you know, I am an unabashed Wilco fan. Maybe a little fanatic. But hey, they are a fantastic band with a great back catalog and a bright future, as evidenced by their latest release, Wilco (the album).
The record starts at a frantic pace with Wilco (the song) and they audaciously lay out their intention. “Wilco will love you baby. They are a sonic shoulder to cry on.” And you know what, they are actually right. Given the whimsical album cover, the gratuitous use of parenthesis (which you know I love), and the ability to make wonderful music, Wilco provides a nice escape from pre-packaged pop stars that take themselves too seriously and instead just set about the business of having fun and making a great record. It’s perfect for summertime listening and long road trips.
This album has all of the hallmarks that you’ve come to expect from your Wilco albums. Upbeat anthems that keep your head bobbing and your toes tapping, wilting guitar solos that meander up and down and all around, and a tight, rock and roll sound that gives you a chance to get lost in the music. Fans of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (arguably one of the greatest albums ever) will love You Never Know, a piano driven song, and Sonny Feeling, both of which carry that Americana rock edge that makes it so special. Fans of A Ghost Is Born (easily Wilco’s most experimental and complete album as a whole) will find a home on Bull Black Nova with its repetitive looping sound and fuzzy guitar solos. And really, there are shades of each previous album in this one. It listens as a reflection of who Wilco is, yet it does not get bogged down in the past. It nods to the musical heritage that is Wilco and then speeds past that to keep pressing forward.
And while there are easily 5 fantastic standout songs on this album, it still works as a complete grouping. I felt that Sky Blue Sky never really flowed as well as it ought to have, but Wilco (the album) does not have that problem. It has all of the best elements of the band’s music that any Wilco fan has come to love and enjoy, yet it is still readily accessible to those people new to them. There is even a guest appearance by Feist on You and I, which only magnifies the range that this album has. It really is a complete effort and one that will be in heavy rotation on my iTunes for the rest of the summer and probably longer. Are you being attacked? Wilco will love you baby!