It’s the right time of year for Chicago-based alternative rock band Wilco to release their 10th studio album, “Schmilco.” Their latest studio effort is low key and nostalgic, just right for fall.
This album might come as a surprise for a few reasons. First is the fact that Wilco has been together since legendary frontman guitarist Jeff Tweedy started the group in 1994, marking almost 22 years of ground-breaking innovations in music. It’s remarkable that they’re still finding something new with their sound after all this time.
Wilco has changed so much throughout their journey, so there’s something in their discography for everyone, whether it’s the playful pop rock of their previous album, “Star Wars,” or the sheer perfection of their 2002 album, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” which received a coveted 10 rating on Pitchfork.
Everyone can get along with Wilco; it’s unpretentious and simple, but still orchestrated and intentional. They don’t just sit in one genre — everything they do blends Americana, folk, rock and pop.
The second surprise of “Schmilco” is the simplicity of the album, especially after the release of jubilant “Star Wars” last year. It’s slimmed down and acoustic, but still retains the brilliance of their folksy songwriting and the art of telling stories with song lyrics. The lyrics in each song on the album are worth searching for.
Third is a slight note of cynicism, especially with 11th track’s ironic name “We Aren’t The World,” and the album’s name. Wilco’s “Schmilco” name could just be a small homage to genius songwriter Harry Nilsson’s “Schmilsson” album from 1971.
“Schmilco” starts off with “Normal American Kids,” a bittersweet look back at adolescence, a time when you “hate everything you don’t understand.”
Next up is pre-released single “If I Ever Was a Child,” a sweet-sounding lullaby of a song. Tweedy croons like a shy lover: “So I won’t ever want to touch / your heart too much / or hold you too tight.”
The fifth track, “Nope,” is a real American jam. The guitar and the drum blend together, making a great beat for walking or truckin’ along. It’s hard to resist tapping a toe along to the beat. After that comes “Someone to Lose” and the hook of the bass line is enough to get listeners moving, but then comes the rocking chorus of “I hope you find someone to lose someday,” and the guitars slide on in with Tweedy’s falsetto.
The only moments in the album that take away from the acoustic nostalgia is the building feeling of “Locators” when Tweedy huffs and puffs out the bridge of the song. There’s also fourth track “Common Sense” that’s simply a touch too dark and ominous.
All in all, “Schmilco” is a tender, lowkey album just right for lying in bed and listening to the autumnal wind or reminiscing on youth. The album is one more great effort from songsmith Jeff Tweedy. No doubt, “Schmilco” will leave listeners wondering what Wilco will do next.