It’s become painfully clear to me what this year’s music trend is.
Last year was marred by the over-use of Auto-Tune, which was somehow popular despite the fact that Eurotrance/dance music has been using it for years now. This year, numerous bands seem to be recreating music they made last decade. First there was Depeche Mode, next was Sonic Youth, and now you can add Wilco to the list.
Appearing on the scene in the mid-nineties with strong jam albums like Being There and A.M., Wilco set a bar for themselves and just continued to raise it. And since the release of their fourth (and greatest) studio album in 2002 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco have been the forerunners for experimental/folk/Americana music. Hell, they’re probably the only band that fits such a concise genre. The following two albums have been radically different in sound making it impossible to pin down where a Wilco album will take you next. Well, that’s not the case here.
Wilco (The Album), ultimately finds Jeff Tweedy and Co. rewinding their song-writing skills back to before 2000. The record starts off on a decent note with “Wilco The Song” and “One Wing” bringing in that comfortable Wilco sound. The fourth track, “Bull Black Nova,” comes on like a shot in the arm (hardy har!). It’s an excellent song that showcases the experimental side that Wilco has had on display this decade. It’s also the one of two tracks where uber-guitarist Nels Cline is even audible on the record. However, the sweet instantly turns to sour with the forgettable single, “You And I.” And from here on, it seems that Jeff Tweedy’s mind just simply fell asleep.
Honestly, the entire second half of the album sounds like retooled tracks from Being There. Tracks 6-10 had me thinking I had slipped into a Timequake. Not to say that these are bad songs. “You Never Know” and “Solitaire” are exceptional songs, just not the kind of Wilco songs I want to hear in 2009. It just makes me think that Jeff Tweedy’s tank has run dry for the time being. It’s too early to say whether or not Wilco have already passed their prime, but I can’t help but heed the warning signs.
Wilco (The Album) is by no means a bad record. It’s just not the record Wilco needed to make.