BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wilco; Wilco (the album): (Warners)

 |   |  2 min read

Wilco: You Never Know
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wilco; Wilco (the album): (Warners)

While no one would suggest that Wilco's Jeff Tweedy is on happy pills -- the glum Country Disappeared and Bull Black Nova here would deny that -- he is clearly a very different man than he was around the time of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

The chunky rockist opener on this seventh studio album -- yes, it is called "Wilco (the album)" -- is Wilco (the song) and asks the listener "do you dabble in depression, is someone twisting the knife . . . you need to know, Wilco will love you". And it doesn't sound even remotely cynical as they offer a "sonic shoulder for you to cry on".

And later on the poppy You Never Know which owes a delicious debt to George Harrison with its effortlessly rising chorus, backing harmonies and swooning slide guitar Tweedy says: "C'mon children, you're acting like children, every generation thinks it's the end of the world/thinks its the last/thinks it's the worst . . . there's a secret I can tell, there's a witch down a well . . . [but] I don't care anymore".

And yet he sounds like he does care, about enjoying life and just getting on with it. On the gentle, acoustic-framed You and I he and guest vocalist Feist sing as lovers happily not having to know everything about each, that's it's just fine like it is. On I'll Fight he recognises that there are some things worth defending.

The recent Ashes of American Flags film showed the band coming alive on stage but also reflective about the state of their nation, and those threads are evident here again also notably on the elegant, country-flavoured ballad Country Disappeared ("nothing's ever going to mean as much to me").

Some of this album was sketched out and rehearsed at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studios and at Piha when some members, Tweedy included, were in Auckland for Finn's Seven Worlds Collide concerts, although it may be stretching the point to suggest that a summery vibe imbues this music.

There is the typically Wilco melancholy in abundance (they did start and end in Chicago after all) and the dark Bull Black Nova is delivered over a stabbing piano figure. And in places guitar Nels Cline peels of abrasive licks which give the music some edge.

This may not be the best Wilco album in their long and diverse career and it lacks the requisite classic-killer tracks.

But on repeat plays its lightness is infectious and the dramatic Everlasting Everything which closes the album is the perfect book-end to that opener: half-hymnal and half-embellished rock while meditating on the fact that although all (material) things must past some things like love last forever.atoim


Oh, and does Wilco (the album) boast among the best uses of an animal on an album cover since this by Storm Thorgerson (right) for Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother?



Share It

Your Comments

Tim - Jul 6, 2009

I find it impossible to pick the best Wilco album - they all have different strengths and magic moments. I go back to different albums at different times. Wilco (the album) is probably a bit more immediate than some of the other stuff. Tweedy certainly appeared to be a somewhat happier chap on Blue Sky Blue and the pills seem to be working because here he is positively poppy in places. In fact the whole band sound like they are playing with a smile. I'm pleased Nels Kline's tendency to histrionic guitar workouts has been tastefully restrained - it's stronger for that.
Wilco (the album) is another fine addition to a great discography.

Another great photo of Mr (or Mrs?) Camel on the homepage

Honky Cat - Dec 19, 2009

Are you serious?????????

Did you see Wilco on the "Being There" tour?????????

Nothing has even come close since then>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Mitch Howard - Oct 19, 2010

I don't find it hard at all to have a favourite Wilco album, i love them all but Summerteeth more than the others. dominates my Wilco time on stereo. I think She's a Jar is one of the most poingant songs ever written and i love to play it to unsuspecting guests, (not that anyone actually listens to lyrics anymore, maybe i need to start offering Pot, instead of Pinot Noir??) The closing line is a classic but I also love the chord changes and harmonica in the track. But this album is clearly (in hindsight) classic Wilco. Come on Jeff just play it live, its not on the live album "Kickin Television" or on "Ashes of American Flags".

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior (Southbound)

Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior (Southbound)

At the time of Richard Thompson's excellent Rumour and Sigh album in '97 I decided I'd had enough of hearing how he was a cult figure whose albums never sold: so I did an interview with him (he had... > Read more



In November 68 the Beatles released what became known as The White Album, a diffuse and diverse double-vinyl which in places sounded like the work of three separate songwriters who has seconded... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE SOLOMON ISLANDS (2002): A portrait of a failing country, and the road to redemption

THE SOLOMON ISLANDS (2002): A portrait of a failing country, and the road to redemption

These first two articles published in the New Zealand Herald on consecutive weekends in December 2002, the first dealing with the background and problems of the Solomon Islands, and the... > Read more

EILEN JEWELL INTERVIEWED (2018): Got them weird, oldtime blues again

EILEN JEWELL INTERVIEWED (2018): Got them weird, oldtime blues again

The weather’s often like this at this time, raining and cold,”says Eilen Jewell from her hometown of Boise, Idaho. “It’s the only time of year that it rains, because of... > Read more