First Listen: Wilco’s “The Whole Love”


Wilco’s latest, The Whole Love, is streaming for another, oh, 20 hours or so over at about 3 1/2 weeks before its scheduled release date of September 27. Score one for Tweedy and the Wilcsters – the album hasn’t even leaked yet and they’re still letting us hear it early! Sweet.

Of course, one listen is nothing to formulate an opinion of an album on, especially when that listen consists of me having it on in the background while I do my reading for my Iranian Revolution class, so I will refrain from joining the fray of reactionary comments that surely must be flying across cyberspace by now (which, I can surmise, probably range from “the best since A Ghost Is Born! Woooo!” to, of course, “meh”) – though I will say that, at least initially, this album appears to have far more musical ideas on it than the band’s last two records, particularly the Wilco Revue-lite Wilco (The Album). However, at this point, I can tell you what it sounds like.

Overall, it’s very Summerteeth. Plenty of lush synth string swells, 60’s keyboards and melodic backing vocals, though without the undercurrent of angst and marital issues – power pop tunes like “Dawned On Me,” “Born Alone” and “Standing O” surge with confidence and catchy hooks rather than catchy hooks and self-loathing. The songs that aren’t poppy are mostly lonesome acoustic country-folk songs a la Being There, one of which, “Black Moon,” reminds me of another (very old) “Black” Tweedy song – Uncle Tupelo’s “Black Eye.” That includes the 12-minute closer “One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)”… I think I’ll have to figure out what the lyrics are before I decide how much I like that one. The other earmarked extendo “experimental” track, opener “Art Of Almost,” sounds a little fragmented on first listen but I’m sure it will cohere after repeated plays. It features an absolutely bitchin’ solo by Nels Cline, one of the best working guitarists around today, at the end, which is nice to hear since he’s been absolutely neutered in the studio on the last two records.

Anyway, the stream will be up until 1 PM eastern time tomorrow, so go ahead and check it out and see what you think. And if you don’t make it in time you can probably download some shitty low quality rip of the stream anyway, so you’re golden.


  1. Emily wrote:

    But I love self-loathing Wilco!

    I like the idea of doing a twenty four hour stream straight from the source. If I am up early enough tomorrow/remember, I’ll definitely give it a listen. Even if it is three and a half weeks before the release date.

  2. Emily wrote:

    Okay, so I’ve listened to this twice now and one thing is for sure: this record sounds a whole lot better when I’m not listening to it in Ohio.

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