Wilco - (the album)

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I'm not a big "fan" of Wilco.  I've bought their last several CD's, however, and I really don't know why.  I haven't pondered through their often enigmatic lyrics.  I haven't figured out why noise and cacophony would be considered a "good" thing to include in a song.  And I don't particularly relate to the man behind the lyrics, Jeff Tweedy, meaning I don't usually feel what he feels.

Still, I know that they're good, and each time I listen to one of their CDs, I find something that I like, usually either new or something I had liked before and had forgotten.  It's the kind of music that I won't often play, and if I do, as with Radiohead's Kid A, I'mWilco (the album) fairly certain my family wouldn't understand why I would listen to it (so I don't when they're around).

One aspect of Wilco (the album) - I guess that's opposed to Wilco (the book) or Wilco (the pop-up toaster) - is that Tweedy continues to wear his insecurities on his sleeve.  The title track (don't laugh, even though they want you to), is Wilco (the song).  It could be heard as a coy invitation to their fans to rest easy in the comfort of the band.  But with all of the relational trauma that Tweedy writes about here and elsewhere, I can't help but think he's projecting his own need.  But it's a catchy song at the least.

And that's one discernible characteristic of this CD - there are more "catchy" songs than in their last several offerings.  "You and I," a duet with Feist, may read simply, but the tunefulness makes it a lovely song.  "I'll Fight" suffers somewhat by it's repetitive intro, but the tune is solid and the lyric ultimately unfolds into a revelatory expression of the sacrifice that love is.  "One Wing" reads beautifully, and although the song structure doesn't quite rise to its lyrical level, the guitar work certainly adorns it nicely.

And the lyrics, overall, are also a good thing about this CD.  Tweedy is often obtuse in his songs, but only a couple songs are head-scratchers here - "Deeper Down" and, to a point, "Bull Black Nova."

Musically, the band is good to great throughout, though at times they seem uncertain as to how to end a song.  Often, and not just on this CD, they seem satisfied just to stop playing rather than instrumentally work out a satisfying conclusion.  If the music is to fit the message, it abruptly ends whatever "place" the listener is in.

My favorite lyric is from "Solitaire," which unfortunately is not carried by a memorable tune.  But as poetry...

Once I thought the world was crazy

Everyone was sad and chasing

happiness and love and

I was the only one above it


Once I thought without a doubt

I had it all figured out

universe with hands unseen

I was as cold as gasoline

 

Took too long to see

I was wrong to believe in me only

 

Once my life was a game so unfair

It beat me down and kept me there

Unaware of my naysaying

Solitaire was all I was playing

 

Took too long to see

I was wrong to believe in me only.

 

Maybe I can almost relate to Tweedy after all.

Recommended Tracks: "You and I," "One Wing," "I'll Fight"

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

 

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