And You’ll Love Them, Baby
In an industry increasingly dominated by fresh faces and new acts, Wilco is an outlier. Over thirteen rollercoaster years they’ve released six studio albums, amassed a cult following, lost all but two founding members, and traveled the globe. And although they’ve endured more dramatic years than most acts will even see together, one thing remains consistent: their music has always been interesting, compelling, and endearing.
Wilco (The Album) is no different than its predecessors in this fashion. From start to finish it is as satisfying as your favorite dinner. Frontman Jeff Tweedy oozes his trademark vulnerable intelligence, the tracks toe an intriguing line between carefully thought out and prone to spastic outburst, and the last seconds of the record always come just a little too soon. From minute one the project is instantly likeable and unmistakably Wilco.
Most songs fall somewhere in the scope of Wilco’s catalog, but like Radiohead’s In Rainbows, the project comes off as a fresh take on familiar sounds rather than an easy walk down memory lane. The gentle frustration of “I’ll Fight” is vintage Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, while “Bull Black Nova” borrows winding guitar jams from A Ghost is Born and the electric slide of “Sunny Feeling” brings back Being There.
For as similar as Wilco (The Album) can be to the band’s past efforts, especially 2006’s Sky Blue Sky, the record still offers inventive content for longtime fans. Most notable is a guest appearance by Leslie Feist, who provides a sweet and soulful addition to the candid “You & I” More subtle is the overall texture of the album, which feels more relaxed and extraordinarily open in comparison the band’s earlier undertakings. The tone is set with the title track, “Wilco (The Song),” in which Tweedy asks over distorted crashes “Have you had enough of the old? / Tired of being exposed to the cold?”, and reassures that “Oh, this is a fact that you need to know / Wilco will love you, baby.” Like this earnest declaration, the entire album bleeds a level of sincerity and honesty that is both intriguing and irresistible.
It’s only appropriate and clever that Wilco chose this point in their career to release a self-titled album. Usually reserved for bands making their debut and establishing their name, Wilco instead uses this eponymous release to place an exclamation point on what we already know: If it says Wilco, it’s going to be special.