by Maddy Siiter
Alt-country/rock band, Wilco, released their ninth studio album Star Wars last month for free through their website. After downloading and listening through it, I was surprised at the direction Jeff Tweedy had taken with the usually mellow band.
As a whole, the record seems like a sonic experiment for the 21-year-old band. The songs are backed with fuzzy distortion and synth. It’s new and refreshing, but still lyrically clever and heart wrenching like you’d expect from a Wilco album.
Opening the record is “EKG,” a one minute and fifteen second loud mess of a guitar-riff. It’s all over the place and confusing, but serves as a necessary preview for the 10 tracks to come. Following are songs like, “Random Name Generator,” “The Joke Explained,” and “Taste the Ceiling” deep with distorted guitar and vocals and various electronic background sounds that might suggest the band went, “I wonder what this button does.”
The oddity of the song titles might match the sound, but there’s still depth to the lyrics, though occasionally overshadowed by the heavy production. A line in “The Joke Explained” catches my attention:
“I never held your gaze. I never knew my place.”
Another catchy line in “Taste the Ceiling” hits me hard as a teeanger trying to be true to herself in a world of similarity.
“I could never leave behind the part of me that you refuse.”
There’s no doubt that Star Wars is the greatest next step for the band. The relatable and often bittersweet lyrical content match that of the 2011 release The Whole Love, making it recognizable for longtime fans, but the fun and looser twist has the ability to easily hook in new listeners. I’ll definitely be listening to this record for a long time to come.