Are you under the impression,
This isn't your life,
Do you dabble in depression,
Is someone twisting a knife in your back,
Are you being attacked,
Oh, this is a fact,
That you need to know,
Oh, oh, oh, oh Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you Baby
Ever since Summerteeth was released in 1999 and through 2006's Sky Blue Sky, I think Wilco has consistently been one of the most musically ambitious acts out there and actually rival the Beatles in their Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Preston's, White Album, Abbey Road hey day (musically, not culturally of course). For me, Sky Blue Sky was particularly stellar and grows on me to this day with it's jazzy mellow vibe and Nels Cline's amazing guitar work. Aside: If you want to see Nels really take on the songs of Sky Blue Sky, check out American Ashes, the DVD Wilco released this past Spring.
After a couple of years of touring in support of Sky Blue Sky, Wilco's reputation really grew as they put on concerts that were flat out wonderful. So it was with great anticipation when it became known that Wilco was coming out with a new album. As has been the case with the last few Wilco albums, the band streamed the album on their web site months before it was available commercially and reviews were mixed. It was mellower than previous albums and didn't hang together coherently like a typically Wilco album does.
After listening to the album a bunch of times over the past week I am not going to disagree with the initial buzz. Wilco (the album) is mellower. Sky Blue Sky was essentially a showcase for Nels Cline guitar freak outs and the new album lacks that (although if you want to get your Nels Cline on, don't skip over Bull Black Nova, which at times feels like an outtake from A Ghost is Born). But to say that this is meddling Wilco album means that it is still better than 80 percent of what is out there musically today.
Wilco (the song) is a nice kick off with it's Velvet Undeground-tinged guitars and soothing lyrics (see above). We may live in scary times but don't worry, Wilco loves us. I could see President Obama incorporating this song into campaign stops, substituting his name with Wilco's. Deeper Down is probably a song that is mentioned when critics claim this album is mellower and not so strong. As I mentioned above, Bull Black Nova is a hard rocker with some wicked Cline guitar work
You Never Know, the first single and album highlight is a classic Wilco song and is related to the first song on the album in that Jeff Tweedy is basically telling us don't worry about the bad times, we've always had bad times. This may be the end -- we don't know, but you don't need to care. Also there is a nice homage to George Harrison's My Sweet Lord toward the end of the song.
While none of the songs in the later half of the album reach the heights of You Never Know, Wilco is still there by our sides as we navigate these troubled times. In I'll Fight, they assure us that not only do they love us (baby), they will fight and even kill for us. Can you name another band that will do that for it's fans?
Finally in Everlasting Love, Wilco assures us once again. "Everything alive must die, every building built to the sky will fall" but don't try to tell them that Everlasting Love is a lie. So not only does Wilco love us (baby) it's everlasting and that's no lie. The song and album fades out with a classic Nels Cline guitar work.
So maybe not as satisfying as the last few Wilco albums but a nice album nonetheless. Maybe the first post-economic meltdown, post-Obama election album, assuring us that the world isn't coming to an end. Sure we have problems, but with love we'll get through it and heck, if we don't, at least we have Wilco to bring provide us with music at the end.