Wilco | The Whole Love

dBpm (2011)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  September 27, 2011
4.0 4.0 Stars


Wilco's evolution from Uncle Tupelo detritus to post-Americana thinking-man's jam band goes two steps back on their eighth studio album, and that's a good thing. Unlike recent comfort-zone efforts Wilco (The Album) and Sky Blue Sky, The Whole Love — the band's first album on its own label, dBpm — feels like a truly audacious studio record, jam-packed with instruments, ideas, and the sort of restless creativity that marked 2002's game-changer, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Besides the ukuleles, glockenspiels, Mellotrons, loops, and Stooges samples, this puppy's got great songs, too. "Dawned on Me" and the title track boast solid pop hooks, "Capitol City" walks with sprightly music-hall steps, and "I Might" and "Standing O" bring the reinvigorated rawk. The whole thing is bookended by the seven-minute "Art of Almost," a herky-jerky funk workout complete with thrash coda, and the 12-minute "One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)," whose steady pulse, even-keeled instrumentation, and unfussy musical repetitions are very Blonde on Blonde. This final track, in particular, so opposite the band's previous forays into long-form, betrays a deep, deep trust in patience — the very thing which, some 17 years after Wilco originally formed, continues to pay dividends.
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