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Album Review
Star Wars

Star Wars
by Wilco

DBPM Records

Review Date
27th July 2015
Reviewed by
Gerry le Roux

Earlier this month Wilco announced the digital release of their new album - free for a limited time before the arrival of physical versions. While free digital releases aren't anything new, what makes this special is the element of total surprise - along with the fact that it was coming from one of the most consistently excellent bands of the past two decades.

The 11-song album is named Star Wars, but that title is juxtaposed with a cover featuring a rather kitsch painting of a cat with a vase of roses. What it all means we may never know, which is a good thing - as Jeff Tweedy sings: "I cry, at a joke explained".

The album starts with ‘EKG’, a short, sharp stab of lo-fi guitar riffs, squawks and squeals, making it clear this is no Sky Blue Sky Pt 2. Wilco has always been determined to push the boundaries of the "Wilco sound" and they do it again here. Flashes of 60s avant-garde rock, 70s glam, and 90s indie collide with classic country rock - often in the same song.

What is great about Star Wars is that none of it sounds contrived, self-conscious or premeditated. While an album like A Ghost is Born came across as quite serious in its intent to expand musical boundaries, the pervasive feel of Star Wars is relaxed and playfully eclectic - the sound of a great band having fun stirring different sounds into their brew and seeing what it tastes like. The intuitive interplay between Tweedy, Cline, Kotche, Stirrat, Sanson and Jorgensen is a joy to behold - I cannot wait to hear these songs grow wings in a live setting.

Star Wars is a rollercoaster ride through the best bits in your record collection. It is a class act, on par with the best in Wilco's illustrious catalogue.


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