Extraterrestrial Sorcery

Wilco’s free album is worth the price of admission and then some


Andrew Burnes, Editor


If there was any doubt before Wilco that 2015 is the year of Star Wars, it’s been all but removed. But regardless of whether J.J. Abrams is able to pull off Episode 7, Wilco has quietly delivered not only one of the greatest albums of of the year, but one of the greatest works in their already mighty catalog.

Though Jeff Tweedy has gone on record claiming that the title of the album really has nothing to do with it whatsover, there’s no denying that there are extraterrestrial elements throughout. Intro “More” is as out there as Wilco’s ever been while “You Satellite’s” repetitive hook plays like a lovely hyperspace beacon flashing in the sun’s light after a particularly difficult firefight, or a beautiful, smiling face gazing at you lovingly after a life failure. Some moments are stronger than others and at times, it seems like Wilco is trying a little to hard to be Wilco, but like most of their best albums, it’s strange on the surface but beautiful at the core.

The album’s second half in particular is rock solid with tracks like “Where do I Begin” that are still spacey, but manage to keep their feet on the ground. “Cold Slope” and “King of You” work together perfectly; if “Random Name Generator” was as cool as the changing weather, “:Cold Slope’s” killer bass riff is sub-zero only ramping up the chills when that chorus hits. “I Don’t Recognize You Anymore,” Tweedy admits, “Some say you’re not really there/although you still take up space.” Icy baby. Even so, “Taste the Ceiling” may be the best track with its Dylan-esque organ hits trading beautifully with its Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era acoustic moodiness as Tweedy whispers “I Get that feeling when I’m hanging out with/Why do I forgive you/because I get confused.”

Star Wars is a typical Wilco work of art in that it only gets better the more closely you listen. There are times when the extraterrestrial meandering, deceptively intense melodies seem like they’re written with an unknown alien species in mind. As electronic closer “Magnetized” fades off into the distance like E.T. heading back into the great unknown, you realize that it works pretty damn well for humans, too.