Album Review: Wilco – Star Wars

Chicago band Wilco have released their latest effort entitled Star Wars. The 70’s inspired record was released by surprise last week, and it is available for a free download on their official website. It will be released on CD on August 21st, and on vinyl on November 27th.

Star Wars is a change of pace for Wilco, considering their previous efforts. Here they are letting go of some of their conventions, and using a wider palette of sounds from the past which they fuse together quite nicely. Glam rock guitars, power pop melancholy, and the distorted sonic landscapes of 80’s college rock all decorate the record. This is not to say that they are putting their name on something that’s already been explored, this record is not territorial in that sense. Star Wars is a glimpse inside the band enjoying itself in the moment.

The production on the record is stellar. The shining and sliding guitars offer substance and atmosphere to these songs, as does the drumming on tracks like Where Do I Begin? Singer Jeff Tweedy’s vocals are generally less emotive and more playful, in tune with the mood of most of the record. Highlights include Random Name Generation, with its cheeky lyrics and 70’s vibe, Taste the Ceiling, which displays Wilco’s well-known folky side tinged with the fuzzy vibe of the record, and Magnetized, the sentimental ballad which wraps up the album.

Although the record does lose some of its color towards its end, it still shows an exuberant side of the band. It may not be the most inventive record under Wilco’s name, but it stands out for its charming songs and artful production. Wilco’s latest record is a surprise, not only in the way it was first presented to the world, but in what it offers and the sounds it explores.

Get your free download of Star Wars here.