Wilco’s Ode To Joy Named New York Magazine/Vulture’s Album of the Year
1. Wilco, Ode to Joy
The argument for Wilco as one of the great American rock bands of the 21st century rests on their ability to synthesize the disorienting sensation of the last few decades, the scent of wars around the edges of comfort, the awareness of disorder wrapped in the detachment from it. They’ve done it in three different decades now, modeling torpid ’90s ennui throughout 1996’s Being There, jacking into the jittery anxieties and technophilia/-phobia of the early aughts on 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and fighting to stay positive against the odds on this year’s Ode to Joy. Through jingles about cemeteries and tribal dirges lamenting the endlessness of war, a picture of a people trying to hang onto a sense of normalcy emerges. That the band manages to reconfigure its own roots-rock sound into a darker and more wily one in the process is the mark of a group of legends at work.