When I am asked, "Don't you like any new artists," I still answer "I love Wilco," even though they have been a band almost four times longer than The Beatles were. Wilco was the last "new" band that struck a chord with me. That chord resounded in 1994 and it has parlayed into an incredible catalog of studio work and inspired live performances, and to this day, I look forward to new music from Jeff Tweedy and company the way I once used to back when things were, you know, better.
As you might have heard by now, "Star Wars" was a surprise free drop last week on Wilco's website and on select digital sites. It is, as far as anyone can tell, the new "official" Wilco record, which is scheduled for a traditional release later this year.
I dove in headfirst... and almost cracked my skull open.
"Star Wars" is a sputtering collection of
Some might argue that Wilco has been experimenting from day one, with each of their releases sounding different than the one prior. I guess I wouldn't disagree. But "Star Wars" is the first time I listened to a Wilco record and did not immediately want to listen again. I was left cold, and strangely enough, it was over all too quickly. This bothers me more than the content. It's 34 minute length feels like the cherry on top of an unbaked cake. I don't mind the new musical territory, I just want to believe the band means it. And I don't.
"Star Wars" begins with its moments. "More" and "Random Name Generator" both quirk along at an upbeat pace and for a few minutes you'll feel confident that Jeff Tweedy has done it again. But then, it all starts to slowly fall apart. "Taste The Ceiling" sounds like a "Summerteeth" throwaway, say "Candy Floss's" stranger, inferior brother. "Pickled Ginger" is a distorted, two minute mess, like something Tweedy might have introduced in a rehearsal with "So what do you think of this?" only to receive stares from a stone-faced backing band. If you're still hanging around by the last three tunes, "Cold Slope," "King Of You," and "Magnetized," you will surely want to kick the chair out from underneath you when this trifecta completes it monotonous run.
I just made "Star Wars" sound unbearable, and as a whole, it might be. But broken up into pieces, with a song or two on separate albums, a b-side here, an E.P. there, maybe a tune in a movie, and these