Wilco (The Album) is the name of the latest from the heroes of the alt-country set, although the band's detractors will surely argue that the title almost is as disquietingly bland as the band itself. Not quite: It's a tame, pleasant, weird little album—but it's more like the sigh after the 12th step in The Program, or, whatever the one is where you apologize for everything.

Here, the band remembers what they do best and shakes off most of what they don't. There are fewer solos than there were on Sky Blue Sky, nearly as much noise as there was on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and some of the belabored textures from A Ghost Is Born, all in good measure. Jeff Tweedy sings about accepting limitations and the cruelty of high school kids. He sings about the ways relationships wane and dissolve. He trades some sweet licks with avant-garde guitar mercenary Nels Cline. The band bucks a couple of times, hardest on "Bull Black Nova"—actually, it's the hardest they've bucked on record since before Foxtrot's release.

Basically, Wilco finally seems to have gripped, firmly, what they're good at: heavily supervised rock music with a little bit of grit, a few funny noises and production tricks, and enough bromides and nostalgia amid the poetry to make it hit glancingly.



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