Wilco matures in new album

I’ve decided I am okay with “Cousin” not being my favorite Wilco album. For a while I thought it would be. The longer I waited for its release, the more I convinced myself it would cause some sort of change in me.

“Cousin” is too gentle of an album. It makes me feel still, like I’m swelling and sinking in place — somehow relaxing and unnerving at once.

“Infinite Surprise” calmly begins the album, but soon grows intoxicating with repetitive, distorted guitars.

The second track, “Ten Dead” picks me up and comforts me with Jeff Tweedy’s signature songwriting, but the familiar melodies only last so long. Again, I am underneath a wave of unease.

“I’m tired when the day breaks / I’m tired when the day ends / Righteous, righteous / The way my life will bend / The way my attention bends / The way that my knee bends.”

The song decays as it plays, reminding me of the type of rock Wilco is so good at. That gritty, frustrated rock that’s somehow never too loud because it is constantly building. The sound that makes me love Wilco.

“Levee” is the lightest track, with a loose chorus and percussion that frames the song. This makes it punch with the right amount of force at the right time.

“Evicted,” “Cousin” and “Soldier Child” share catchiness. All phenomenal songs that could be wrapped together in a package. 

The lyrics of “Evicted,” “I’d laugh until I’d die if it wasn’t my life / If it wasn’t me in the mirror,” are those of a self-loathing Tweedy, but when aligned with the melodies, they turn from angry to sympathetic towards himself and the listener. 

There isn’t a person out there who hasn’t hurt another in life, on purpose or not. Everyone has made mistakes and experienced the consequences. “Am I ever gonna see you again? / I’m evicted / From your heart / I deserve it.”

The others, “Sunlight Ends,” “A Bowl and A Pudding,” “Pittsburgh” and “Meant To Be,” bloom with differences. Wilco is just as strange in their 30th year as they were in their eighth, when “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” dropped.

Wilco has become such a constant in my life. When things were slow or turbulent, I’ve always had that feeling that Tweedy knew exactly what was going on in my head. But, when listening to “Cousin,” I was overbearingly aware I was listening to the anxieties of someone much older than me. 

However, I did not feel that way about their last album “Cruel Country,” which had even more mature themes. I suppose because of that welcoming alt-country, acoustic sound of the album. “Cousin,” is eerie and echoing, nothing like “Cruel Country.” 

I am not going to feel the same way about “Cousin” as I do “Summerteeth” and “Sky Blue Sky,” because I’m 22. Some of Tweedy’s ruminations clash with my own. I can only handle so much and am content existing with old Wilco albums for a while longer. 

Even as time passes, the effectiveness of a Wilco album won’t fade. For some Wilco fans, I’d argue nothing will ever replace the first measures of “Being There.” 


5/5 Stars




Featured photo courtesy of @wilco, Instagram