Sky Blue Sky
Wilco has been an American music staple for the last 12 years. They’ve had it all: Grammies, critical acclaim, respect and adoring fans.
However, in the wake of the fall of post-grunge and the rise of fast-paced, up-tempo rock, many of today’s youth don’t know how to approach Wilco. The band has always made progressive rock, taking more from country than they do from the experimental genre. And a label like ‘adult alternative’ doesn’t necessarily stand out to the average teenager who turns to music as a form of release.
But when you listen to Wilco with an open mind, it’s easy to realize that their music is for everyone. ‘Sky Blue Sky’ captures them at their peak, staying consistent throughout. Wilco enjoys mixing distorted riffs into their otherwise mellow music, and it is only when they get carried away with experimentation that their records suffer. For the most part, the riffs come in appropriately and elevate the songs rather than drag them down on their new album.
The album’s opening track, ‘Either Way,’ highlights Jeff Tweedy’s soothing voice, possibly the epitome of easy listening. The beauty of tracks like this shows why it can be frustrating when he goes awry at times. He leads the listener along, grabbing their attention with his soft, easy-going melodies.
Wilco’s minimalist approach on some of the tracks highlights their strengths. ‘Please Be Patient With Me,’ perhaps the best track on the album, shows how well guitarists Tweedy and Nels Cline can play off of each other with the simplest patterns. Tweedy maintains in a yearning tone, and he almost sounds like he’s whispering, as he does in the title track, ‘Sky Blue Sky.’ He quietly reflects, ‘Oh, if I didn’t die / I should be satisfied / I survived / It’s good enough for now.’
The lush ‘Leave Me (Like You Found Me)’ is one of the more atmospheric of Wilco’s efforts. A piano becomes the backbone of the song, with the guitar adding effects to help set the mood. The bridge picks things up a bit, only to calm back down and close with the original ease