Review: Wilco, Wilco

Jeff Tweedy doesn’t sound any happier. I’ve always found the Wilco leader’s apparent discomfort in his own skin to be one of the reasons the band was capable of compelling music (although by no means always).

On “Solitaire,” one of the many somber, introspective tunes on Wilco’s self-titled seventh studio album, Tweedy sings in his trademark laconic style, “Once I thought without a doubt/ I had it all figured out/ The universe with hands unseen/ I was cold as gasoline/ Took too long, to see, I was wrong, to believe, in me/ Only.”

Does that suggest that Tweedy is now playing well with others? Or has he finally found the others that are willing to follow his vision. I’m guessing it’s the latter.

In any case, Wilco’s approach on the new album hews more closely to standard song structures than some of the avant-garde-leaning work of the past. Only a handful of songs really stick to your ribs, though, and only one will have you singing it in your head later. That would be “You Never Know,” the disc’s most energetic, uptempo tune, with swelling background vocals, a choppy piano part and a swooping guitar lick that calls to mind George Harrison’s breezier solo songs.

While the material comes up short on the catchiness scale, the guitar interplay between Tweedy and Nels Cline is full of imagination and beguiling texture: the theremin-like whistle on “Deeper Down,” the push into Neil Young-esque noise on “Bull Black Nova,” the razory slide on “Sonny Feeling” (the albums’ other sort-of-uptempo rocker), the pedal steel-style slurs that pop up throughout.

Tweedy surrounds the guitars with a mostly pastel backdrop that at turns includes tubular bells, organ, and the slightest splashes of strings and horns (to give the closer, “Everlasting Everything,” an epic crescendo).

In the end, Wilco is a worthy entry into their canon, but certainly not a classic. (Nonesuch)


Since 1988, CL Tampa Bay has served as the free, independent voice of Tampa Bay, and we want to keep it that way.

Becoming a CL Tampa Bay Supporter for as little as $5 a month allows us to continue offering readers access to our coverage of local news, food, nightlife, events, and culture with no paywalls.

Join today because you love us, too.

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
Scroll to read more Music News articles

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.