Wilco have put out great albums for so long that even a mediocre one might disappoint. This one is on the brink.
It seems unlikely that Jeff Tweedy and his band will gain many new non-geriatric fans with this release, which is by-and-large one easy-rollinâ€™ record. Tweedyâ€™s songwriting here could be characterized as strong to medium-strong, and listeners will still want to hear the melodies and his half-abstract, half-concrete ramblings about the vagaries of love. Sky Blue Skyâ€™s framework, however, remains troubling.
The guitar heroics undoubtedly rescue Sky Blue Sky, and the occasional easy-listening vibe puts it in peril. Plainly stated, often halfway or three-quarters through a song, a skronky guitar rides in like Jesus on a Harley and manages to salvage an otherwise bland effort.
Tweedyâ€™s songwriting is not really to blame, although the album sounds at times like 70s Rod Stewart or Wings, and at other times frighteningly similar to J. Croce or G. Lightfoot. That is, until the six string messiah is resurrected.
Whatâ€™s the deal? Are Wilco are being unconventional by beingâ€¦conventional?