After 20 years of existence, Wilco spent 2015 reminding everyone why they were heralded as “America’s Greatest Rock Band” in the first place. Their Star Wars album stands up against the best works they’ve done, and let Jeff Tweedy and co. show off their fun side that had been kept under wraps since 2009’s Wilco (The Album). Now the band returns with Schmilco only 13 months later, leaving fans to wonder if the band can strike gold yet again.
It’s certainly a different kind of record than Star Wars. The fuzzed-out rock and roll of their last release gives way to music more in line with Wilco’s alt-country and folk roots. Which isn’t to say there isn’t room to get weird. “Common Sense” begins like a fairly traditional Wilco song, but quickly evolves into something else entirely. Steel drums rattle around some discordant guitar plucks, adding a whole new wrinkle to Wilco’s repertoire.
I feel like I don’t need to get too deep into the album, since my review isn’t going to change anyone’s mind on Wilco-you either love them or are stupid (jk you aren’t stupid, you just don’t have good taste in music-jk you’re taste in music is probably great). Wilco is still the best band, and one of the few that can put emotionally deep and resonant songs next to catchy pop tunes and make them feel like they fit together somehow. They still wear their love of The Beatles and Dylan on their sleeves and proudly take the music they grew up on to the next level.
One thing different on Schmilco, and I’m certain many people will disagree with me here, is Tweedy’s voice. These songs feature his best vocal performances in a long while. Not sure if he’s doing something different, but it’s working. There’s always been a sweetness to his tone, and a knowledge of melody, but he seems comfortable in a way he never has. Maybe getting older has helped him let go of some of his insecurities.
Here’s a link so you can find participating record stores where you can hear Schmilco ahead of its release date on Friday. Listening parties will be happening today, September 6th. Times vary, but seem to fall between 5 and 7pm. The record only runs around 40 minutes, so you might get to hear it twice!