By Chris Moore:
September was, for me, the slowest new music month of the year thus far, but if the only music released in a thirty day span is a brand new Wilco studio album, you’ll find me a happy camper each time. Jeff Tweedy and company have yet to disappoint me, and regarding The Whole Love specifically, Wilco has rarely impressed and entertained me so greatly (probably only once before; can you guess on which record?). Read on…
The Whole Love (Wilco)
Producer: Jeff Tweedy, Pat Sansone, and Tom Schick
Released: September 27, 2011
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Top Two Tracks: “Born Alone” & “Dawned on Me”
From start to finish, The Whole Love exemplifies the Wilco experience: traces of what you’ve come to love, unexpected turns (particularly, this time around, in “Capital City”), and a careful sequencing that unites twelve distinct songs along a single thread. Bookended by relatively lengthy experimentation in the distortion-drenched, feedback-fueled romp “Art of Almost” and the pleasant acoustic twelve-minute narrative “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend),” the majority of the tracks on The Whole Love are concise efforts, ranging from the retro-stomp of “I Might” to the lush acoustic production of “Black Moon.” On most tracks, it becomes clear that it is not so much that Wilco is an experimental band so much that they are innovative in their arrangements, in their seemingly instinctive sense of how to blend movements in songs, which instruments to bring high in the mix when, and how best to (subtly) layer in beds of synthesized sound for atmosphere. From start to finish, The Whole Love is a striking effort: one of those albums that yields up new revelations with successive listens, one that begs to be left alone when the twelfth minute of track twelve fades and cycles back into to the first tentative moments of “Art of Almost.” If you hear only one new album this year, I would posit that Wilco’s latest disc is the most expansive, complete, fully rendered of them all; a true must-listen.