WILCO – Schmilco

Nonesuch Records

Wilco turned their back on country music way before Taylor Swift identified it as the money making venture it was to become. The first Wilco album was full of the type of twang that was most often heard behind chicken wire, and steadily evolved into the genre bending band that they have become decades later.

Since the previous Wilco album, most (if not all) of the bands members have released albums of their own, yet return for Schmilco to strip Wilco back to the basics. The bands Chicago studio The Lost has been known as a place of excess and innovation, but on Schmilco it is also a place of splice and reflection.

Jeff Tweedy and his band of intense but somewhat merry men have been known to throw the kitchen sink at their tunes as well as taking the listener on wild meandering guitar romps. These traits are all reigned in as Schmilco draws on acoustic instruments, brushed drums and tight harmonies.

Falling closer to folk territory than ever before doesn’t mean that Wilco will prompt you to sit around a camp fire with these tunes. There is the usual tension in Tweedy’s lyrics and he laments Normal American Kids, shows his hand on Cry All Day and whispers his way through Shrug And Destroy.

Fears that Tweedy had used his best tunes on the twenty song opus he recently recorded with his son are put aside early in the piece as Schmilco is the most direct and engaging release from Wilco for some time.

4 Stars