Thursday, May 31, 2007

This is important, But I know you’re not listening

Sky Blue Sky - Wilco
My initial response to this album was no response at all. Was I missing something? Where was the Wilco I expected? How could the most complete and experimental lineup the band has ever had create such a simplistic sound?

Frustrated with the effort I disregarded it for a few days before giving it another spin. I began to come across reviews for the album and it was obvious two camps were forming.

Some side with the Leaves:
Many applaud the group for heading in a more approachable direction, trimming back on the reverb, heavy instrumentation and drug infused meandering lyrics laced with metaphors. The Tweedy on Sky sings about mowing the lawn and learning to work the washing machine. Gone are the Chrome Devils, Cherry Ghosts, Hummingbirds and the Listen to my Eyes of a troubled and washed mind. Tweedy sounds in control of his voice, but his message is mixed and troubling. Sober and somber he talks to us in an elementary way. The lyrics are still dark and seeking approval, almost expectant of the listeners mixed reactions and for many, that works.

Some side with the Seeds:
I am of the other camp however. After several solo tours from Tweedy, Nels Cline and a stellar Kicking Television, it seemed the band was poised to blow us away again. Instead, they choose to shock us by doing nothing shocking at all. Why would a band being heralded as the ‘most important band in American rock’ and ‘America’s answer to Radiohead’ revert back to the sounds of their first two efforts? The obvious answer is: Because they can. The deeper explanation may reside in a creative struggle to duplicate or evolve on what Wilco was fast becoming.

Tweedy and Co. owe no explanation or apologies for Sky and I’m not asking for it. When all is said and done, this is still a fine album and it’s growing on me…it’s just not what I wanted it to be. Wilco is still Wilco, and that’s better than most can say.
If you feel like singing a song
And you want other people to sing along
Just sing what you feel
Don’t let anyone say it’s wrong

Rating: 7.4

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