The Last Word: Wilco’s “Blue” Monday

May 14th, 2007 // 13 Comments

wilcover.jpgEvery week, we round up the all-important, all-summarizing last sentences of the biggest new-music reviews. Today’s entry is Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, which will be released tomorrow.

- “The production is straightforward, but the song structures aren’t; that’s where Wilco’s idiosyncrasies still hide out. The tunes amble into instrumental interludes that stack riffs into steely patterns or let Wilco’s lead guitarist, Nels Cline, slice through the calm surfaces. Wilco’s new music is contemplative, stripping away past distractions, but it’s far from placid.” [NYT]
- “For a band who can credit a hefty part of their charm to always thinking they’re weirder than they actually are, stripping away the disconnect between Wilco’s earthy adult-alternative center and their more recent ambitious aspirations– whether they’re exploring Krautrock, breaking into a Sonic Youth freakout, or sabotaging a song’s structure– reveals a fairly traditional band that’s emerged from their “weird” phase a markedly less interesting group than they were before they entered it. Perhaps after giving the band-member carousel another spin, Tweedy merely ended up with the wrong personnel to articulate his mood here. If that’s the case– as long as his restless habits hold– we may only need to wait one more album for message and messenger to click back into alignment. [5.2]” [Pitchfork]
- “For my money, Wilco has done its greatest work when Tweedy has given voice to his darkest sentiments, as on ‘Summerteeth,’ or pondered the most frightening and unsettling aspects of these troubled times, as on the last two albums. And that’s a voice we need much more than fresh sheets or clean dishes. [Three stars]” [Chicago Sun-Times]

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  1. King of Pants

    Ten years from now, everyone who wrote a Pitchfork review will go back and read it, and they will have such a full-body wince of embarrassment before their own preciousness that they will spontaneously combust.

  2. parrotrunner

    I’m probably the only person who likes A Ghost Is Born more than the rest of their output.

  3. glumble

    @riverrun: I consider myself a pretty big Wilco fan, and A Ghost Is Born is also my favorite record by them. However, this record is a serious one way ticket to snooze city.

  4. Charlie Kerfelds Jetsons Tee

    @riverrun: Nope. I’m with you on that.

  5. Juancho

    I checked out at Summerteeth. As great as that was, I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around anything they’ve done since then.

  6. Lucas Jensen

    A Ghost Is Born is their Pinkerton, I think. Crazy that my thoughts on Wilco are the same as NYTimes! I’ve always found their playing around with pop structure to be their most avant aspect.

  7. Mick Kraut

    @Juancho:
    SUMMERTEETH is the high water mark for them (you could make a case for YHF, but ultimately I think it would come in 2nd)

    I think YHF was a good record…for me, A GHOST IS BORN missed the mark…this one is the soundtrack to a Starbucks…too mellow…just plain boring really…perhaps more attentive listenings will bring redeeming elements to the fore, but after 5 full listens it hasnt happened for me yet…

  8. Tauwan

    I came in late to the Wilco game [YHF] and just realized today that I have only purchased three of their albums [YHF, A Ghost is Born, and Kicking Television]Like two of you here, I adore A Ghost is Born, even more so after hearing those tracks live a summer or two ago. As for the new record, I have only heard two or three tracks released on a blog or two and I like what I heard. As of late I have been doing this crazy thing where I won’t download an album before it drops and get all excited for new release Tuesday, going out and purchasing a disc hoping [and so far getting] a satisfying long player. [See Neon Bible, Sound of Silver,Volta, and many more] Here’s hoping the same will happen tomorrow when I get my hands on this one and R. Wainzeey’s latest.

  9. A Roach

    I don’t get all the backlash that seems to have built over the last week. I am absolutely in love with this album– then again, maybe I’m just in love with Nels Cline, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Tweedy’s getting older, mellower and sober for the first time on a Wilco record– I can’t blame the guy for wanting a little peace and quiet. But “a snooze”? Listen to the end of “Side with the Seeds”– probably the most manic, soaring minute of recorded Wilco.

    To be fair, you need a lot of time with this record– which is why the pre-release buzz (nerds like me who have devoured this album over the past couple months) has been so good, while the release buzz (3-4 listens) is largely negative.

    Also, Summerteeth > YHF. I like you people.

  10. Pete the Chop

    Yeah, I have to agree, A Roach, even if it’s a day late. I’ve been listening to “Sky” since March and the more I listen the more it opens up. The guitar crunching at the end of “Side with Seeds” and “Walken” is a blast.

    Anyway, I think you can go back to “Being There” and find the key to most everything Wilco has recorded since. It’s all there. You hear a little bit of every album in “Being There” — which I think is remarkable. They’re an amazing band.

  11. spitsonstrangers

    @Mick Kraut: Agree completely re. Summerteeth followed by YHF. I’ve been a fan of Tweedy and Ferrar since Uncle Tupelo and followed them right through the the formation of Wilco and Son Volt. And then right through the Guthrie / Dylan debacle and then Nora Guthrie gave her father’s lyrics to Billy Bragg and Wilco and a band was born.

    Listening to Wilco post-Coomer / Bennett was odd. O’Rourke was melodic where Bennett had been melodic. Wilco could have closed shop after YHF and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

    Please go listen to Being There and Mermaid Avenue and Summerteeth and YHF before whining about the injustice of the reviews. You should also see Sam Jones’ documentary I am Trying to Break Your Heart.

    OMG – I totally geeked out. So unlady-like!

  12. spitsonstrangers

    O’Rourke was melodic where Bennett had been *avant garde.

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