Frontman Jeff Tweedy and his boys are back.
After its blander 2009 outing, “Wilco (The Album),” Wilco has come back with a diverse, monster album in line with both its experimental tendencies – like 2002’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” – and its roots – as in 1996’s “Being There.”
“The Whole Love,” which came out Tuesday, has a wide variety of different, yet similar tracks that go off in yet another new direction for one of America’s best bands of the past 15 years.
“The Whole Love” starts off with the epic, two-part “Art of Almost.” With heavily distorted, almost ambient guitars the song is reminiscent at times of “I am Trying to Break Your Heart,” the group’s opener for its 2002 critically acclaimed album, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”
Drummer Glen Kotche, who has been busy contributing to Andrew Bird’s album “Helpless Creatures” and Radiohead drummer Phil Selway’s solo effort, “Familial,” between Wilco albums, comes back to the band with a percussional masterpiece on this track.
Perhaps the best song on the album, “Art of Almost,” pulls in listeners of all kinds and prepares them for what else is to come.
The main single from the album, “I Might,” is an instant Wilco classic. With more heavily distorted guitar, “I Might” stands out among other classics with it’s Doors-esque keys and distinct melody.
“Dawned on Me” will be one of the band’s best live songs. With guitars on guitars, and the rolling, refrain, “I can’t help it if I’ve fallen in love with you/ I’m callin’ just to let you know it dawned on me,” sang in a momentous beat by Tweedy will be screamed by the many different types of Wilco fans as the group tours this fall (a spring/summer tour for 2012 is also expected).
“Black Moon,” a track with a folk taste, is backed by a strong strings section (which seem to pop up all over the place in “The Whole Love”) along with Tweedy strumming along on his acoustic guitar. This track along with, “Rising Red Lung,” give the album the folk aspect that many fans will be looking for.
“Born Alone” – automatically one of Wilco’s catchiest songs – has a very identifiable guitar riff that will be recognized by all Wilco fans as another instant-classic upon first listen. With multiple guitar layerings, this song will also be one of their best live songs.
The happiness of the music contrasts with the somewhat depressing lyrics, a Tweedy tactic we’ve seen before. With lyrics like “Sadness is my luxury,” and “I was born to die alone,” the song takes on a whole new meaning.
Yet juxtaposed with the inherently fun music, the saddening feeling is instantly assuaged, and perhaps instills a degree of hope for the singer.
The title track echoes their sounds from 1996’s “Being There,” a salute to fans of their early work.
The final track, “One Sunday Morning,” is vintage Tweedy pulling at your heart strings with softer, rolling acoustic guitar, piano and simple drums, focusing more on what he wants to tell the listener lyrically than musically.
Tweedy sings of a strained relationship with an over-bearing father, and dealing with growing older. At 12 minutes long, it may drag at times, but remains a solid closer to a fantastic album.
Not surprisingly, Wilco has yet another fantastic outing with “The Whole Love.”