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Wilco - Wilco
Wilco's self-titled seventh album suggests that now is the time to pin down the band's identity - a notion the band's singer and lynchpin Jeff Tweedy has confirmed in interviews.
Unusually for the Chicago rockers, little has changed since their last outing. The line-up is the same and the settled mood transfers itself to the music. 'Wilco (The Song)' breezes in amiably, despite Tweedy's occasional lyrics to the contrary. This newfound contentment doesn't transfer to complacent song-writing, however, with the 11 tracks here confirming the band's position at the top of their game.
The tunes are occasionally daring, particularly 'Bull Black Nova' (a ballad written from the perspective of a man who has just killed his partner) which becomes increasingly fractious as it progresses, climaxing with an anguished guitar solo. By contrast, 'You Never Know' is the long-lost cousin of George Harrison's 'My Sweet Lord', all carefree vocals and sighing guitars.
Tweedy's sensitive side gets an airing too, in the soft, piano-led 'Country Disappeared' and the tapered 'Deeper Down'. The gorgeous duet 'You And I' finds a tender side too, playing Tweedy off guest vocalist Feist, both singers sticking close to the microphone over intimately traced guitars. Tweedy still counters warm romanticism with the observation that "It's like we've never met sometimes". That, it seems, is a good thing - and the closest Wilco have yet come to a fully-fledged love song.
This is a record is of memorable melodies, luminous instrumentation and poignant vocals from Tweedy. It's a piece of work to grow with, to indulge in. Only then can the rewards fully be uncovered.