Here Jeff Tweedy of Wilco has made a double album with his son Spencer on drums. It’s so painfully long and pleased with itself they should have called it Ron Jeremy. Actually, it would make more sense, on paper maybe, if this was the new Ryan Adams album – and the self-titled Ryan Adams album was Jeff Tweedy’s taut, often lovely but musically derivative offering outside and away from Wilco. (Though I suppose he’s as likely to name a record “Ryan Adams” as he is to call one “Ron Jeremy”).
There will be sycophants/psycho-fans clamouring about The White Album as a comparison – but Tweedy’s already made his version of The White Album, it was called A Ghost Is Born. This sounds more like he went out to the back shed one afternoon to remake Tusk in his own mind but forgot that Tusk worked because Buckingham might have constructed it as if a solo album/mad folly but he did so with the best material from three distinct writers and a kick-ass rhythm section (even if that rhythm section was sometimes just Buckingham). He also did it high on coke and entitlement not bored with being successful and hoping to reconnect with his son.
On Sukierae Spencer Tweedy does sometimes approximate Mick Fleetwood actually, but only ever by way of Liam Finn. And that’s okay. Spencer Tweedy is young – and actually does fine here. The crime is that Jeff Tweedy figured he was the most important part of Wilco. That was only ever going to be true when he was in/with Wilco. (And even then…)
This album is a cutting-room floor full of ideas with little shaping going on and never enough snipping. It’s sweetly intentioned perhaps – but if that were really the case then where’s the cover of a Cat Stevens song?
No, this is Tweedy burying a decent-ish album (or EP) inside a long and dull one.
Pigeons would be good – if it had Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche to take it somewhere. The same can be said for most of this album actually. I like Spencer Tweedy’s exuberance but it’s no substitute. And with Jeff Tweedy still writing Wilco songs for Wilco albums – because whether he wants to admit it or not that’s what (most of) these sound like – Kotche is a hard act to follow.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes work. The middle of the album – sides two and three if you’re such a sycophant you coughed for the double vinyl – features the best moments. Sadly most of the best moments are inside songs that also contain ponderous “jamming”. Slow Love wants to be good – and actually it sounds a bit like something Neil and Liam Finn might make together – but it takes too long to really get going.
Nobody Dies Anymore is more successful – because it’s the best song here. But it still sounds like Tweedy denying Wilco its chance to make his good song great rather than some wonderful fresh new standalone moment.
But after that it really is a long slow ride – even though it’s all downhill from there.
Tweedy made that typical mistake – one I was sure he would succumb to even though I hoped, as a fan, it wouldn’t actually be the case. He figured he was the most important aspect of his band. Not true. His songs might have been – but then, you see, it was all about the rest of the guys in Wilco making his songs their tunes. From there we all got to enjoy them. Whereas this lot feels like something to endure for the most part.