Wilco – The Whole Love (2011)

I love Wilco…wholly. On their last album they told me that they apparently love me back too, which is nice. I imagine our wedding outdoors somewhere in the midwest. During Wilco and I’s relationship there have been some ups and downs. The years we most synced up were between 1999 and 2004– aka Summerteeth through A Ghost Is Born. Summerteeth was chock-full of great songwriting and catchy tunes, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was a lyrical masterpiece full of experiments applied in the studio and in the creation of song structures, and A Ghost Is Born was a loveable mess ranging from the bipolar “At Least That’s What You Said” to the “pure bug beauty” that is “Company in My Back.” Things got a little rocky when they released their last 2 albums Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (The Album). The balls and the bite had for the most part vacated and we were left with songs that, while nice, felt a little empty. The rough edges found on songs like “Ashes of American Flags” and the aforementioned “At Least That’s What You Said” had been completely sanded down to something that was just too clean for me. So when I heard the opening track on The Whole Love, I got excited. The first thing you hear is a tight, crunchy beat laid down by the quietly brilliant Glenn Kotche. What follows is a 7 minute jam full of guitar and keyboard layers and a fucking awesome bass line to lead the way. To top it off is an edgy guitar jam that builds into a full band freakout. Unfortunately this is the only song on the album that sounds like this, but fear not! Wilco has always made catchy tunes, but songs like “I Might,” “Dawned On Me,” “The Whole Love,” and “Born Alone” are some of the catchiest to date. Then there are the slow but beautiful tracks like “Black Moon,” “Sunloathe,” and the 12 minute “One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend).” For me, the last couple efforts felt something like Jeff Tweedy featuring Wilco instead of just Wilco. This album feels like each member put in just as much as Tweedy did. Oddly enough for a Wilco album I find myself not paying attention to the lyrics very much.  That’s not to say the lyrics are bad, but the songs on this album are so insanely catchy that even if they were I probably wouldn’t notice or even care. The album does sag a little bit toward the end with “Open Mind” and “Capitol City” following eachother, but they really aren’t bad songs. It could also just feel that way because the first half of the album is so much more lively than the second half. In either case, to Wilco I say bravo and can only hope that we can grow old and die together some day. Overall: 8/10

Here are my favorite tracks: “Art of Almost,” “I Might,” and “Sunloathe.”

My Itunes Ratings:

Art Of Almost: *****
I Wish: *****
Sunloathe: *****
Dawned On Me: ****
Black Moon: ****
Born Alone: *****
Open Mind: ***
Capitol City: ***
Standing O: ****
Rising Red Lung: ****
Whole Love: *****
One Sunday Morning (A Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend): ****

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