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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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This is Wilco's eighth studio album and the first on their own label, dBpm (an abbreviation of 'decibels per minute'). Over the course of their career they have evolved from alt-country beginnings to their current position as one of the best and most respected bands on the planet. Wilco have always has been Jeff Tweedy's band - he is their creative and driving force and one of only two remaining founding members. Never afraid to challenge their fan base, this is a welcome return to form after 2009's largely underwhelming 'Wilco (The Band)'.

A mix of acoustic and plugged-in rock, this album encompasses many of the styles found on their previous releases. Opener 'Art of Almost', with its programmed beats and electronic effects, would sit comfortably on either 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' or, given Nels Cline's riffing on the extended outro, 'A Ghost Is Born'. The power chords of 'I Might' (which samples The Stooges 'TV Eye') hark back to 'Summerteeth' and the alt-country 'Open Mind' could almost be lifted from 'Sky Blue Sky'. Further highlights include the 12 minute album closer 'One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)', a gorgeous acoustic number with lyrics about a father and son relationship, and the punchy 'Standing O'. 'Dawned On Me' features excellent guitar work and some brief snatches of vocal harmonies. 'Capitol City', although not particularly bad, is the low point - lightweight and whimsical, it sounds like a Beatles tribute. The bonus disc features a tongue-in-cheek cover of Nick Lowe's 'I Love My Label' - the band released it as a single to celebrate the launch of their label. The guitar driven instrumental 'Speak Into the Rose' is the twin of 'Spiders (Kidsmoke)' from 'A Ghost Is Born'. As always, Tweedy's vocals compliment the music perfectly.

This Limited Edition Deluxe 2-CD set is accompanied by 52 page booklet that features the lyrics, band portraits and extensive artwork by the sleeve designer. The CDs are housed in cardboard slipcases and these in turn are housed in a sturdy outer-case alongside the booklet. The combined playing time of both discs is a generous 75 minutes.

With their own label and the current line-up having been in place for five years now, Wilco sound like a band reinvigorated and, paradoxically, a band at ease with themselves. This may not quite be their best album, but it's certainly one of their best.
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There is a danger when you try to satisfy everyone that you satisfy no one. Jeff Tweedy is keenly aware of this since in recent years Wilco has tended to polarize music fans who love their experimental side as evidenced on their masterpiece "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" but are not overly keen on their gentle country rock side as evidenced by albums like "Sky blue sky". But in the world of Wilco the whole is the sum of the parts and in a remarkable career they have become the premier American band by refusing to be pigeonholed and being driven by a sense of sonic adventure. "The Whole Love" is their eighth full album and comes as a single album or a slightly longer special edition with 4 additional tracks. It essentially covers all Wilco bases with a mix of the experimental and traditional. This is most in evidence on the two best tracks which bookend the main album. First up is the powerful 7 minute plus opener "Art of the almost" made up of a wonderful cacophony of pulsing synths, propulsive beats and Nels Cline doing a great impression of Richie Blackmore. As a polar opposite the album concludes with the gorgeous twelve minute plus alt country acoustic epic "One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)" where not one second is wasted and which may be one of Tweedy's finest compositions ever. In between you get some of the best pop songs since Summerteeth and a fine balance between artsy, melodic and country. The single "I might" for example has a throbbing bass, a sub Doors style keyboard line and enough hooks to catch mackerel. Cline's injects the song with ragged guitar lines as Tweedy who is clearly enjoying himself intones that "It's all right/You won't set the kids on fire/But I might". Following songs like "Sunloathe" the truly lovely "Black moon" and the thing of beauty that is "Open mind" are a trilogy of mellow Tweedy ballads which anchor the album, although it is the later "Rising Red Lung" which impresses most with its haunting ghostly guitar lines in the background.

Along the way the sub Velvet Underground sound of the excellent "Dawned on me" starting with a classic Lou Reed riff and ending with some Nels Cline led feedback. One slip does come in the form of "Capitol city" where Tweedy revisits his Lennon and McCartney enthusiasm on a jaunty sub White Album song that is easier to admire than love. The whimsy however is quickly shattered by the preceding "Standing" with its 60s organs and raw guitar rock as the band cut lose and even introduce handclaps. While the penultimate title track is inevitably overshadowed by the brilliance of the concluding "One Sunday Morning" it is a punchy and jaunty song, which could have happily fitted amongst the hazy pop of Summerteeth. The four extra tracks on the special edition include the ironic blues of "I love my label", the slightly Mexican tinged acoustics of the excellent "Message from Mid Bar" and a slightly different version of the scintillating "Black Moon" where on subsequent listens you detect a clear Elliot Smith influence. It is however the six minute plus instrumental "Speak into the rose" that dominates here as it harks back to "A Ghost is Born" and the pulsing electronica "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" and its slowly building simple, driving rhythm and gradual layers of guitars. Five minutes in the band basically have a great wig out but never lose control. It reminds those who ever described Wilco as "Dad rock" to wash their mouths out and offer profound apologies.

Taken as a total package "The Whole Love" is one of the most enjoyable Wilco albums the band have constructed. Creative freedom might be a factor as its their first album on their own label dBpm Records and yet again recorded in inspired comforts of home at the Chicago loft studio which featured on the Sky Blue Sky videos. Ultimately for long term Wilco fans this album proves that the stability of recent line ups has finally paid off with a set of musicians who could play the spoons for 12 songs and make them sound great. Alternatively were "The Whole Love" to be your introduction to this great Chicago band you would discover an album chock full of so much music that recalls their great history that its almost a "Best Of".
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on 6 October 2011
Wilco have long been one of my favourite bands, and in my opinion The Whole Love is a seriously great addition to their catalogue. Others have already reviewed The Whole Love far more eloquently than I can, but I wanted to add that Tweedy's vocals really stand out for me on this CD. His voice seems to have more dimensions to it than I've known before, but still on occasions makes my heart ache with its quiet soulfulness. Wilco are the complete package - genius song-writing, all skilled musicians (but sensitive and selfless enough to know when to hold back), and one of the best live bands you will ever see.
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on 26 September 2011
Less experiemental than some earlier Wilco records Jeff Tweedy settles down to middle age with another career defining record. Wilco are the top American 'a' band of the last 15 years each record has been bold and different. Perhaps not as challenging as YHF but this will sit comfortably with their other records - Wilco can do no wrong - great band and Jeff Tweedy is amongst the best songwriters of the last 20 years.

Review for 2 cd version.
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on 9 November 2011
A new album from Wilco that more or less does it all. Has enough of the past to know it is still got a great writer in Jeff Tweedy in all these songs, but always willing to take a different route, as heard on the opening track 'Art of Almost'. Third studio album with this line-up, and the rhythm section is now locked in, the lead guitars add shades of sonic textures, and the keyboards support rather than dominate in the pro-tools era of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Notably that more than half of the album is getting played live on their current European tour, mostly the up tempo songs off here, with the epic closing song 'One Sunday Morning' is a 12 minute acoustic number with Jeff's twisted lyrics a standard too.

Only down side - ordered 2 disc version of this from Amazon, and it never arrived and wasnt explained why... oh well I ordered the single disc and its definitely one of Wilco's better albums.

oh and the borrowed bit... I Might samples TV Eye by the Stooges
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on 19 November 2013
This is a great CD that grows and grows on me. I knew nothing of Wilco until I was transfixed by a chance hearing of Black Moon and decided to follow up on the premise that anyone who could produce that quality of music would be worth a longer listen. It sure was the right decision as its the whole package of mind grabbing sounds, deep lyrics and a voice to remember. I hear a whisper of John Lennon.
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on 4 October 2011
thank heavans for wilco.much welcome relief from the career musicians who ply there trade in jaded musical shapes and banal lyrics about breaking up with sweety or suchlike heard a million times cliches.a band i treasure so much i worry about them flying when they tour.amazing to behold live too.this one harks back to more experimental times without the discord and feedback that may have been off putting to the more casual listener.when discord does surface it is sweetened,and kept short.this is a much more pop orientated record which also calls to mind there pop masterclass,summerteeth.the main difference in feel though comes from the more abstract than usual lyrics which like much poetry is aimed at lending a feeling as oppossed to describing anything tangible.love it
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on 11 December 2011
I was a bit dubious about this record to start with, but it is certainly a grower. After you get past the incongrous electronica of the Art of Almost, you are in the familiar Wilco territory of guitar based pop with an avantgarde, punky edge. Interspersed with beautifully constructed acoustic tunes such as Black Moon and standout track One Sunday Morning. Bonus cd cover I Love My Label and title track Whole Love provide the catchy pop sensibility that is missing elsewhere. After watching them give an oustanding performance at the Manchester Academy recently, I can only recommend this record and Wilco to fellow Amazon customers.
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on 26 December 2011
Another year and another great album by Wilco. On first listening I found The Whole Love a little flat and uninteresting, making me think that perhaps Jeff Tweedy was trying too many different styles. However, on repeated listenings the album grew on me and I realised that he had succeeded once again. I doubt if there's a better rock band around today.
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on 23 June 2015
The Whole Love joins Being There, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot & Sky Blue Sky as being another masterpiece by Wilco. Art of Almost is an exciting opener with a ferocious speed guitar work out at the end. I Might & Dawned On Me are up tempo alternative pop songs that Tweedy writes so well. The moody Black Moon has enough darkness to keep things from getting too sunny. Capitol City sounds like it could of been on Being There and I like the jolly vibe it creates. The title song is also another major highlight. Closer One Sunday Morning drifts along mellowly, and carries you all the way for it's 12 minutes. Wilco are unique, there seems to be no band member egos, Tweedy writes the songs, and always will, it's his band but he needs talented musicians like Glenn Kotche, John Stirratt and Nels Cline to flesh out his ideas and add the extra ingredients to allow the songs to fly
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