September 4, 2011

Wilco - The Whole Love

It's been nearly 10 years since Wilco graced us with their phenomenal album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and, at least to me, they've never quite matched up to it since. And I'm sure they hate to be the band that's been living in the shadow of their one truly great album, but they seem to be having a great time regardless. They've released a couple above-average records after YHF, namely their last one, which got my hopes up just a little. However, I've listened to The Whole Love through a few times, and I can safely say that they've gotten back in the game, pulled through, gotten their shit together, whatever you want to say.

And they haven't just done so with subtlety, no no. The opening 7-minute track, Art of Almost, is chalk-full of searing guitars, courtesy of Nels Cline, muddled distortion, electronic blips scattered about, and many layers of sonic epicness. They always knew how to open an album well, but this just takes the cake. Next up is the firm-footed I Might, which I wasn't taken with immediately upon first listen, but I'm finding myself warming up to it. More distortion and a rhodes organ make this song quite enjoyable. Now the next track, Sunloathe, is probably my favorite one here. It's got beautiful harmonies, a beautiful, heart-warming melody, and a nice, light feel to it. This is not Wilco, but I'm loving it.

After that, we've got a string of excellent songs, including Dawned on Me, which is just tons of fun, the softer Black Moon, which also has a stunning melody and a lovely blend of pedal steel, rhodes, and finger-plucking, and Born Alone, which has a great guitar lick. Capitol City is another great one, with a San Tropes-esque melody, and the ascending rhodes line makes this song even better. Rising Red Lung is another beautiful little number. The only ones I don't love as much are Open Mind and the title track, although they're still pretty decent.

So yeah, terrific melodies, terrific tunes, just overall a terrific album. Great job, Jeff and friends. You had me smiling all the way through the album.

By the way, if you ever get the chance, you have to see these guys live. They're incredible.

1. Art of Almost
2. I Might
3. Sunloathe
4. Dawned on Me
5. Black Moon
6. Born Alone
7. Open Mind
8. Capitol City
9. Standing O
10. Red Rising Lung
11. Whole Love
12. One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)


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