Wilco’s new self-titled release might be subtitled A New Hope; it’s like the soundtrack to the election of Barack Obama. Everything about the album says that frontman Jeff Tweedy has found contentment.

For a band that has been constantly evolving, The Album is a departure in that it feels like a continuation of previous record Sky Blue Sky. This has a lot to do with the groove the band has found in the stabilization of its lineup.

They do still manage to experiment some within this framework. The beautiful “You and I” is Tweedy’s first duet (with Canadian folkie Feist). While “Bull Black Nova” has the group flirting with prog-rock territory.

It is doubtful whether contentedness has ever produced great art. And The Album does feel somewhat like a missed opportunity. The closest it comes to galvanizing is the anti-apocalyptic reality check “You Never Know.”

But it is an enjoyable collection of tunes and something of a relief for the times. Let’s just hope it doesn’t presage an artistic stagnation.

Grade: B+


Wilco (The Album) is currently available.