Ode To Joy is the 11th album by Wilco. The title is taken from a 1785 poem by Friederich Schiller. Thematically, however, it is concerned with something much more recent - the rather unsettling political climate and trying to find joy during this time. Wilco boss man, Jeff Tweedy, is hopeful that there is more love than hate out there, but is also aware that hate can be lurking just around the corner, so warns us that we’ve got to be careful.
Vinyl LP £18.95 0051497114541
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CD £9.99 0051497114534
CD on dBpm.
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Wilco's new album is hyperreal and hyper-tangible. Twenty microphones seem to have be strapped to each instrument achieving a kind of clarity that's a little unsettling. 'Ode To Joy' is an intimate collection of indie country with the occasional nods to ambient and experimental music. The whole sound of the album is woody and organic, like bark. The percussion is often made up of these 'We Will Rock You' type drum sounds, like an army stamping ground. It sounds like the album has been submerged into carpet but your ears are right up against the carpet, y'know?
There's a lot to unpack in the words associated with this album. Surreal images sit uncomfortably alongside a general feeling of uneasy calm. On 'An Empty Corner' Jeff Tweedy sings about "eight tiny lines of cocaine" that almost disrupts the lyrics about sleep and birds. The song titles are neutered, they're "quiet" and "empty", and feature the curiously motionless images of 'Bright Leaves' and 'White Wooden Cross'.
I love the creaking sounds on opener 'Bright Leaves' and 'Quiet Amplifier' builds and builds into an amazing ambient post-rocky crescendo. Elsewhere, 'Citizens' has this lurching swagger with a barely audible (what sounds like) Martin Rev-esque organ line. 'Ode To Joy' is an album that's full of quirks and irregularities that come together in a way that redefines the sweet spot between indie and country.
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