The eighth album from the “American Radiohead” does the Wilco trick of subverting conventional song structures, diddling paradiddles, and fracturing polyrhythms. It’s a bit like listening to a slightly detuned FM radio station. Kicking off with Art of Almost, an overture of digital squiggles, controlled feedback and laboratory bleeps, the Chicago modernists dive immediately into the fatback beat and angular guitar interruptions of I Might, and then beguile with the gentle caress of Sunloath which comes bathed in the same beatific glow of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.
Capitol City paints a Randy Newman-like portrait of an American everytown but this being Wilco, something dark is lurking behind the picket fences. The Whole Love finds vocalist Jeff Tweedy, a man who’s not so much on the line as hooked up to a central grid of despondency, emerging from his querulous flunk and settling into a kind of bemused serenity. Black Moon and It Dawned on Me are certainly bittersweet meditations that glint with a new sense of hope but the quietly devastating closing track One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend will leave you reeling.
Not exactly the best offering from Wilco - too long on the sun-dappled front porch and not enough time messing about in the basement – but still superb by anyone else’s standards. Will Comply? On The Whole Love they do. And then they don’t.