On Wilco (the album), the solid but unspectacular CD due out June 30th, Wilco rolls together the various genres that at various points have characterized its music—country-folk, orchestral pop, blue-eyed soul, experimental rock. For all its diversity, the music sounds cohesive, largely because in the band’s current roster, the leader, Jeff Tweedy, has found musicians who can turn avant-garde music into pop, and vice versa. That ability is displayed thrillingly in the jarring piano and wigged-out guitar crescendo of “Black Bull Nova,” but Wilco can play it straight, too: “You and I,” Tweedy’s lovely duet with Feist, is certain to be a hit with the NPR crowd. It’s telling that at times Wilco overtly references the Beatles, quoting a George Harrison guitar lick during “You Never Know” and including “A Day in the Life”—style piano and a Ringo drumroll on “Country Disappeared.” The Beatles, too, were a musically ambitious pop band fond of both experimental flourishes and folksy turns, a description that encompasses both Wilco (the album) and Wilco the band.
Photograph: Chris Strong