THAT’S THE WHOLE OF THE WHOLE LOVE? by Thomas Callahan

October 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

10.14.11

That’s The Whole Of The Whole Love?

By Thomas Callahan

I have had to make some painful admissions in my life, both to myself and others. Some have enabled healing to commence almost immediately, which is always a pleasant surprise. Often the response to my revelation isn’t nearly as intense as I anticipate. People generally don’t care. I mean yeah, they care, but they are almost always wrapped too tight around their own axle to act shocked or horrified at anything I say or do. Turns out, I’m not that big of a deal. What a relief.  None of this makes what I am about to say any easier.

I hate the new Wilco record. Ugh. There, I said it. It’s an unfocused, poorly arranged train wreck. It’s full of super sweet, poetically lacking (by Tweedy standards) musings about love that make me feel nothing. Drummer Glenn Kotche, who normally cooks, does little more than keep time over the course of the twelve “easy rockers” that I’m positive I heard Jeff Tweedy swear off in the wonderful documentary I’m Trying To Break Your Heart. 

Perhaps more alarming is the fact that The Whole Love is the second Wilco record in a row that has failed to inspire me. This is the band that I have frequently referred to as, “my Radiohead if there was no Radiohead.” They are bold, adventurous, uncompromising, and capable of causing goose bumps that last the course of an entire album. I would put the Summer Teeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost Is Born progression directly alongside The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A evolution in terms of adventurousness.  Sky Blue Sky was gorgeous, yet surprisingly straightforward. In retrospect, it may have been an indication that Wilco was leveling off, perhaps even running out of ideas. The Whole Love sounds like a single idea, in twelve minor variations.

When the Wilco lineup that featured Jay Bennett parted ways, there appeared to be a sense of relief. The core members of the band, Tweedy, Kotche, and Stirratt, sounded as though they felt free to really steer the ship into uncharted waters. The last elements of the straight alt-country regime were dismissed, and the band could finally get down to business. At first, it seemed as though getting down to business involved writing and recording all the songs the Beatles didn’t get around to. I suppose it’s crazy to assume that would last long.

Sometimes I feel incredibly silly voicing such critical opinions of bands that have earned the right to do whatever the hell they want to, which Wilco absolutely has. I don’t dispute their ability to endure. I know they can still blow minds. I’m sorry to report that they seem to be taking a working vacation.

Read more by THOMAS CALLAHAN

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