In an interview the night before we were blessed with the ( FREE!!!!) surprise release of the veteran band's ninth studio album, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy discussed his song writing process. At the ripe age of 47, three shy of half a century, Tweedy addresses the difference between writing in his youth and in the present, loosely quoting an anonymous intellectual saying, "A young artist waits around for inspiration, and an older artist just gets to work." He's become much more of a believer in that style now than waiting around for some bolt of lightning. The frontman and his band's self-awareness is astounding, as their ability to produce a surprisingly charming record this late in their career proves the group's prolific timelessness and consistent talent.
Kicking off the album with the discordant instrumental "EKG", Star Wars' opening cut is unexpectedly enticing. The unconventionality of Wilco's first ever instrumental opener is melodically reminiscent, dare I say, of Fucked Up's "Son the Father" chorus, sans distortion and aggressiveness. Despite sounding like a faulty machine the song's title references, "EKG" is quite the attention grabber. The track assures listeners that this isn't "just another Wilco album", but a tribute to the signature 'Wilco-weirdness' that has enthralled cult followers and casual listeners alike for the past two decades.
There's only so much Wilco can give listeners, as their fans seem to be their utmost priority. On "More...", Star Wars' rightfully unapologetic number, Tweedy voices how he can only give so much, an ideal track to be placed on their free album. The string of songs following "More..." to "The Joke Explained" contain the spiraling guitars reminiscent of Wilco's equally prolific indie rock peers Built To Spill, as Nels Cline and Tweedy's concisely lackadaisical guitars effortlessly snake through each track's melodies.
Though there isn't necessarily an anthem contained in Star Wars, the closest the band comes to one is on "You Satellite"; a massive crescendo of a song, reiterating the ensemble's generosity as Tweedy croons, "You can't sing what you cant give away," as the track becomes a representative centerpiece for the album as a whole. "Pickled Ginger" contains an upbeat, surging bassline that's drowned in fuzz, setting the platform for the melancholic highlight, "Where Do I Begin." Existentially aware yet simultaneously grounded, "Where Do I Begin" is an ode to being "alone-in-a-crowded-room", as Tweedy contradictorily sings "We're so alone/We're never alone/Forever in debt/To the stomach, I guess."
I must admit I was on an active witch hunt to find the "Jar Jar Binks" among the eleven tracks on Star Wars, but I simply couldn't. If I were forced to dub the title of "Jar-Jar Binks" for any particular song, I would probably end up adding a disclaimer that the sonically represented Jar Jar Binks would be Senator Jar Jar Binks as seen in Episode III. Conclusively, Star Wars is all around a solid record, exemplary of Wilco's enduring pure brilliancy and unfading progressiveness. And besides, who could say no to a free Wilco?