Let's quit talking about 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'
While we’re talking about the arbitrary, 5- or 10-year incremental celebrations of albums, let’s prepare for impending decade anniversary of Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” That seminal effort dropped in April 2002; pick through reviews of the Chicago-based band’s last three albums – 2009’s “Wilco (The Album),” 2007’s “Sky Blue Sky” and 2004’s “A Ghost Is Born” -- and see critics reaching and plucking out what they can of some semblance to “YHF.”
That’s in part because Wilco still subscribes to those same influences like Beatles, Big Star and the Byrds. But it’s still evident on new “The Whole Love” that the band no interest in making “YHF 2.” Why would they? Every album since then has had a different tone and, for the most part, different personnel. (I write this, too, as more site continue appraising Ryan Adams' new material to that of "Heartbreaker." There's yet another artist who cannot escape criticism waged for not sounding like his past.)
Here, on “The Whole Love,” is where advancement is heard most in the musicianship. The lineup -- frontman Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, keyboardists/multi-instrumentalists Mikael Jorgensen and Patrick Sansone and drummer Glenn Kotche -- is now consistent, and there’s an even delegation of roles. Cline is like the weirdo ringer, adding volume and dangerous textures to tracks like “Dawned on Me,” and Kotche being the micomanager, with little details in his rhythms on otherwise-sleepy “Capitol City” and subtlety to already-subtle “Rising Red Lung.” Stirratt makes himself known on the biggest rockers, like single “I Might” and “Standing O,” the latter of which breaks up the soft middle section of the album (but why do both feature the same organ part, borrowed from Elvis Costello's Attractions?).
Which brings me to one of my major qualms with “The Whole Love,” in its sequencing and propensity to tease.