After 15 years, eighth offering by Wilco still holds strongPublished 5:48pm Saturday, October 1, 2011
Much of Wilco’s “The Whole of Love” sounds effortless.
After R.E.M.’s recent breakup, many are looking to Wilco as the new premiere American rock band. In their eighth album, Jeff Tweedy and company do nothing to discourage such praise.
Wilco doesn’t sound like some bands on their eighth album after more than 15 years since their debut. There’s no tired-sounding stretch to recapture old styles. Instead, Wilco forges ahead into new territory.
The band doesn’t linger in its past, but instead pushes into new territories that aren’t quite experimental (a phrase commonly overused in music today), but stretch the band’s style.
In an age when bands like Radiohead are setting aside rocks guitar roots, it’s impossible to escape the multiple interwoven guitars on “The Whole of Love.”
Like most of the tracks on the album “Sun Loathe” somehow manages to sound relaxed and aggressive. The guitars almost soothe you, while the rest of the band and the lyrics sneak up on you.
Despite the mostly guitar-based sound, the sound isn’t restricted to pure rock ‘n’ roll. Tweedy captures hints of folk on “Sun Loathe” and “Open Mind.” “Capitol City” sounds at times like a jazz era croon.
Though the album at times wades through seas of guitars and hints at multiple genres, it’s Tweedy that provides the glue with precise lyrics and vocals.
On “Dawned on Me” guitar rhythms seems to jump happily in opposing directions that blend with ease. The track is one of the most upbeat love songs in recent memory.
On “Born Alone” Tweedy momentarily harkens to the poppy Tom Petty, but soon the multi-guitar attack and upbeat drums take over.
Like much of the album, “Born Alone” attains an easy sound that may betray the album at times. It doesn’t sound like Wilco is even working all that hard for this.
It manages to keep an easy, laid-back sound even when the lyrics don’t quite match the tune: “Sadness is my luxury,” Tweedy sings on “Born Alone.”
At just over 55 minutes, the album is long compared to some other 2011 releases (Radiohead’s “King of Limbs” at 37:24 and The Strokes’ “Angles” 34:09).
However, there are very few moments that will lose listeners. Every song sounds fresh, but stay in line with the album’s theme. It’s one of the better true rock albums of the year.