It starts with a mess of dreamy synths and prominent bass lines, swirling into a kaleidoscope of techno sounds. That’s how you know you are delving into the trademark honest emotion of Chicago-based alternative band Wilco on their new 2011 album, The Whole Love, out September 27. After sixteen years of evolving indie/folk music, the band is revealing more scars in this album through -60’s root-infused tunes reminiscent of Bob Dylan.
“Art of Almost”—the pandemonium-filled kick-off track to the album—hints at far-flung dreams gone awry. Right in the middle of all the regretful chaos enters a crescendo of orchestration that pulls your heartstrings, making you feel like you, too, are falling into failure, slowly twirling into the true depth of the song. As Jeff Tweedy achingly whispers, “Almost” over and over again, you begin to wonder what exactly you lost.
Lingering regrets drift into the background, though, as happy-go-lucky “I Might” meanders into the scene. Here you witness the influential -60’s guitar riffs that dominate the record. The pumping bass moves through your body like sunshine on a Sunday, while the lyrics poke at something a little darker. “Born Alone”—the first single—takes you back through life and reminds you of all the things you have seen. “Sadness is my luxury,” Tweedy states in a sad yet warm voice, accepting the realities of life. Listening to it just once is not enough—and leaving it alone just is not an option. If it is not stuck in your head yet, you were not listening closely enough.
Staying true to their heart, Wilco encompasses their whole being on the seventh track, “Open Mind.” Uncle Tupelo’s (Tweedy’s former band) alt-country origins make a grand entrance on this little number with a big soul. Slow, melancholy lyrics pour over drifting guitar chords like a lazy day spent contemplating the meaning of things. Wilco will indeed “be the one to open your mind” on this one and drive the whole album home by the time it ends.
Through sixteen strong, changing, and sometimes tragic years (rest in peace, Jay Bennett), Wilco comes in strong with another golden album you will keep close to your heart—shining in the whole of your love.
Bri Considine is an aspiring journalist and amateur wordsmith. You can find her passing the days with a good book and a strong cup of joe (and, of course, relishing in the stories in her head). Music, writing, and peanut butter are her passions.