Following last summer’s unexpected Star Wars release, Wilco yet again proves to us with Schmilco that we haven’t even scratched the surface of what this band has to offer. If Star Wars was the psychedelic rocker in his parent’s garage, then Schmilco is his sweet and sensitive little brother. It is here that the band pours out their soul in an album dripping with nostalgia and heartbreak. With its emphasis on acoustic folk rock, Schmilco shows us a more stripped down side of Wilco. And we’re absolutely loving it.
It’s no wonder that Schmilco seems to pick up right where Star Wars left off. The two were supposed to be released as one album, but at the last minute, frontman Jeff Tweedy decided to split the recordings into two. Schmilco is without a doubt the reinforcement of the phrase “Good things come to those who wait.”
Schmilco’s opener, “Normal American Kids,” is guaranteed to make you wistful for the childhood you didn’t even know you missed. It is here that we realize this album is going to be more personal than any of its predecessors. The album moves into the sweet and melodic acoustics of “If I Ever Was a Child” and “Cry All Day.” These softer songs are interrupted by the slightly harsh and twangy “Common Sense.” The band returns to their alt-country roots with “Nope,” a reminder of the Wilco that got us listening in the first place.
“Someone To Lose” is more upbeat and a reminder of The Beatles’ influence on Wilco. The band echoes the Fab Four with its electric guitar chords and lofty vocals. We like to think that in another life, John Lennon and Jeff Tweedy would be great pals.
The ironically named “Happiness” is anything but. This song brings us back to the simple acoustics of the rest of the album, but stands alone in its jarring simplicity and emotion. This one definitely requires a few listens to truly let Tweedy’s poetic lyrics sink in.
“We Aren’t the World (Safety Girl)” is catchy and heartfelt, while simultaneously poking fun at the celebrity studded 80s single “We Are the World.” The album’s closer “Just Say Goodbye,” isn’t its most exciting track, but demonstrates just how much Wilco has evolved in the past two decades.
With Schmilco’s release, the band has renewed its energy and is poised to run with it for years to come. And don’t’ worry, you don’t sound as dumb as you think saying “Schmilco.” Trust us.