Wilco, Liam Finn

This summer, when Wilco guitarist Nels Cline was asked by Paste magazine about how the band has evolved over the years, he responded by saying, "I think we're having maybe more of a blast and enjoying each other's playing and company more now than before." In listening to Wilco (The Album), the band's latest release, this recent change in disposition really manifests itself.

Take, for instance, the self-referential track "Wilco (The Song)," which contains lines like "Wilco will love you, baby." While it's a bit of a departure from the band's typically serious lyrical fare, it exemplifies their newfound playfulness and has garnered the album more attention than the band has received since 2002's seminal Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

For once in its career, Wilco didn't feel the pressure to explore uncharted musical territory or the necessity to further evolve their sound. This is perhaps where the overriding sense of contentment that characterizes Wilco (The Album) comes from. Or it could just be that, after years of tumultuous relationships, Jeff Tweedy has finally put together a stable group of musicians. Remaining constant for the past five years—the longest of any Wilco lineup—this cast is also the first to record back-to-back albums together.

Above all, being at ease with one another and supporting a stellar album this time around should make Wilco (The Tour) one of the most memorable in years.

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Cory Graves