In 2009 (yet to "officially" occur), Wilco released Wilco (The Album), after the death of estranged ex-band member Jay Bennett.
The Beatles was the Beatles's ninth studio album, produced approximately 8 years after the band had formed. Wilco (The Album) is Wilco's seventh studio album, produced approximately 15 years after the band formed.
On the surface, these albums aren't very alike at all. But in each case, one thing is certain: when a band names an album after the name of their band, they mean business.
Wilco (The Album) means business. On first listen, all I can think is: Wilco. The sound is familiar, low-key, melodic, folk-country-rock'n'roll with orchestral moments and stripped-down guitar and everything I have come to love and expect from mastermind Jeff Tweedy. It's the quintessential Wilco album. But only because it's not trying too hard to be so.
The first track, "Wilco (the song)," is upbeat, poppy, and juuuuust a little bit tongue-in-cheek, as if to persuade listeners: yeah, we know we called our album Wilco (the album). But we're not being pretentious, we swear! Decide for yourself:
Wilco (the song.) Sorry about the crappy volume.
From there, the album transitions fluidly, from troubled, angst-y rock anthems (check out the feisty "Bull Black Nova") to soft, beautiful gems (like "you and I" --a bittersweet duet with Feist; and "Solitaire" -- a heart-breakingly beautiful ballad.)
Listening to this album nonstop the past few days, I can't help but feel like it's some sort of grand emotional release on top of everything else -- for all this beauty, there's something sad about this record --it's about people worrying, wandering, not being 100% satisfied with life, but taking pleasure in the simple joys and refusing to settle. Perhaps I'm reading too deep. Either way, this is fantastic record, and just about the best way I can think of to pass 43 minutes.