Wilco – Schmilco – Album Review by Killian Laher
Wilco have mutated from an alt-country-derived outfit to a far less predictable proposition, with a career that stretches over 20 years encompassing several left turns sound-wise. They recently released album number ten, the snarkily-titled Schmilco, and it’s their most muted, low key sounding album for some time. It opens with the quiet strum of Normal American Kids, which sounds like a fairly average (“normal?”) Dylanesque/Americana-tinged strum at first but then you start noticing how clear Jeff Tweedy and Tom Schick’s production makes the guitars sound. If I Ever Was A Child has a hint of percussion on it, but in common with the rest of the album, nothing outstays its welcome. Wilco have long delighted in throwing in jarring moments to roughen up a sweet-sounding album. This album is light on those, with the exception of the off-kilter sounding guitars on Common Sense, which lapse into a midsong breakdown which narrowly avoids dischord.
On the other hand, a Beatles-style sense of melody is never too far away with Wilco, and here they deliver in spades with Nope and Someone To Lose which sound like they could have crawled off Abbey Road or Let It Be. The muted, taut guitars on the rustic sounding Quarters gives this one an edgy, tense feel, which gives way to a blissful relaxed coda. The album’s catchiest moment, We Aren’t The World is hidden away at second last on the album, a bright, poppy strum on an album with a sunny kind of feel throughout, with possibly its warmest moment coming right at the end with Just Say Goodbye.
Overall, if at first it sounds like an inoffensive Wilco album to play in the background, persevere and you’ll discover more going on, and ultimately some fine tunes at the heart of it. And if there is a fuller sounding version of this album lurking somewhere in a vault, it can stay there.
1. Normal American Kids
2. If I Ever Was A Child
3. Cry All Day
4. Common Sense
6. Someone To Lose
10. Shrug and Destroy
11. We Aren’t The World (Safety Girl)
12. Just Say Goodbye
Someone To Lose: