all encompassing number 8
With a steady ship comes a constant flow of production and this is certainly the case in the world of Wilco 2011. Having cemented a consistent line up over the past trio of albums "The Whole Love" marks studio album number eight and provides us with a greatest hits of genres and styles explored on previous seven records. Once coined as the "Radiohead of alt-country" a term which does disservice to both bands, Wilco have a reputation as a band that left the twang behind and explored the leftfield space of Dionysian creativity. However even at their most experimental, rooted at the core of each song is always a tear jerking melody or euphoric riff. "The Whole Love" in many respects is their Abbey Road, an all encompassing record that is filled with tracks taking you to different places, different times even.
Opener 'Art Of Almost' is a perfect example, as crashing beats melt away to the hushed whisper of Tweedy and back again, wigging out to a brain twisting Nels Cline guitar crescendo. 'Sunloathe' again reflects that Beatlesesque influence fusing the tranquillity of Harrisons Something into a track of equal beauty and standing. 'Black Moon' broods like a campfire at dawn "I'm an old soul" finds Jeff Tweedy in reflective mood, however "The Whole Love" is anything but a slippers and pipe affair. The band sound invigorated, playful, fusing intelligent instrumentation into songs like 'Capitol City', which like a postcard from another time, colourfully paints the pro's and cons of city life "breath in that country air" through whirling organ and bell ringing, the results are simply charming. 'Standing O' is a glam alt-rocking romp with added hand claps, Cline and Pat Sansone trading licks and having a ball. "The Whole Love" concludes with 'One Sunday Morning' a dark narrative of escape and religion, the shuffle and repetitive beauty of this track, bringing to life the aimless journey to find oneself.
It seems like a move to their own record label has only enthused the troops, with equal amounts of introspection and progression on show. An album of contrasts, Wilco seem to be having a great time, whether acknowledging their past or travelling somewhere else altogether, this is a journey that is far from over.