Sky Blue Sky
The first track on every Wilco album is something special. Its a song that prepares the listener for the adventure they are about to go on. Usually slow in tempo, sometimes dragging out past the 6 minute range. Its a song that lets you know that something special is about to happen. A solid opener is something that Wilco fans expect.
On Either Way, the opening track from Sky Blue Sky, that special something never comes. Which sadly does help fit the requirement of the Wilco album opener to be a song that sets the pace. Because throughout the entire duration of Sky Blue Sky, that something special never appears.
I hate to compare a bands past albums to their current album, but in this case I feel its necessary to make exception. Progress through the first 5 albums of Wilco's catalog should not lead us to Sky Blue Sky. From setting the standard for the sound of a genre, to pushing that sound to great heights, Wilco has taken a step back here. Sky Blue Sky is the sound of a band no longer willing to take risks.
The album comes across as one long song. Never building up, and almost never changing tempo. Its not until half-way through track 5, "Side With The Seeds", that we hear anything that sounds even close to the sound they are capable of producing. The static of seemingly improvised guitar solos finally washes over. But it comes and goes, taking us right back to where we were....which was in a coma.
After two risky and ambitious albums Wilco have stripped it back down to basics. Every Wilco album is different and special in their own way. They can almost all be summed up with one word. And I suppose that Sky Blue Sky is the same.