It can be difficult for an alternative rock band to continue to bring forth fresh music, but Wilco has seemed to maintain somewhat of a cult following since 1995. Since the announcement of The Whole Love's
release, fans have wondered if the sextet would take on a similar experimental approach to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
(2002) or settle into the bucolic comfort of 2007's Sky Blue Sky
. After much speculation, Wilco has delivered an album that demonstrates exactly what they want to be playing and what listeners want to hear.
The seven minute opener, "Art of Almost," begins with intermittent static and boisterous percussion, reminiscent of an antenna searching for signal. It's an odd choice that the album begins by praising a drummer, but Glenn Kotche's craft and creativity are worthy of acclamation. It takes some time before a steady Nels Cline guitar solo kicks in, and while this wasnt the safest choice for an opening number, few other than Wilco can get away with it. Wilco truly allowed Cline to showcase his ability, namely in a solo that comes later in "Born Alone." The transition into the sugary "I Might" is easily welcomed; it's an upbeat track that validates Wilco's ability to create a flawless song.
The translucent ballad "Sunloathe" feels strained, yet beautiful, and it leads perfectly into the following track, "Dawned On Me." "Dawned On Me" is the closest thing on the album to a simple rock song, with a sing-along structure and reintroductions of Summerteeth's
Every track in the 12-song effort has a divergent surprise, some instrumental hook or unsuspecting chorus that allows each member of the band to be a key player in showcasing their strengths. There's so much going on in every song that it's imperative for listeners to stay on board all the way until the final track, "One Sunday Morning (For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend);" a mesmerizingly soothing ballad that maintains a steady pace provided by Koche, a winding guitar riff, a stream of twinkling and sporadic piano notes, and warm vocals from Tweedy. The twelve-minute stretch of a song is worth the wait.
Although Wilco is most notable for Tweedy's voice, he's always been a part of a team and what's so hypnotic about The Whole Love
is how each of these musicians are able to work as a unit while maintaining their individual and notable acumen. The album takes on strange twists and turns, and never settles on one consistent theme, it works as a collective, and maybe that's the point. Wilco: the band, for real this time.
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MP3: "I Might"