Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Album review: Wilco, Schmilco

Wilco, have released their tenth album 'Schmilco'.
Wilco, have released their tenth album 'Schmilco'.

Schmilco sees Wilco unplugging after the electrified jams of last year's surprise, free release Star Wars.

Where that was the sound of a band rediscovering their energy and indulging their fondness for freak-out experimentalism, this is the sound of that same band having a whiskey and a quiet jam on the front porch after putting the kids to bed.

The largely acoustic jams here hark back to the mellow 70s shuffle of 2007's Sky Blue Sky. The band's fuzzy gats, so prominent merely a year ago, are now relegated to sonic decoration and the odd solo.

You'd be entirely accurate in labelling the album "dad rock". That's not a slight by the way.

The album has a casual vibe and a prevailing loose feel that makes it the best kind of easy listening. The band's freewheeling approach here disguises their inventive, easy musicianship, as opposed to showcasing it.

Folksy opener Normal American Kids, a gentle, yet bitter, ode to being an outsider, sets the scene, before If I Ever Was a Child picks up the tempo and introduces the band.

The rule with Wilco appears to be that the third album track will be the best, and here that's no exception, the propulsive motorik beat of Cry All Day really getting the album moving.

It's followed by Common Sense, a prickly, slightly menacing, acoustic puzzle that will surely delight fans of Wilco's weirder side.

Other highlights include Someone to Lose which channels Stealer's Wheel, the head-nodding Locator and the 70s bliss of We Aren't the World (Safety Girl).

The album's easygoing jams may be hard to get super-excited about, but they're also incredibly hard to fault. They're exceptionally crafted and even with Tweedy's "get off my lawn" style lyrics the album remains an enjoyable easy listen.

Verdict: Comfy, occasionally crabby, dad rock.

- NZ Herald

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