When I'd finished listening to this album for the first time, my immediate thoughts were what a good album it was and how instantly likeable and listenable it was. After the second hearing, I started to think that it was more than good, that it may be a little bit special. From the third listen onwards, it has firmly established itself as one of the best albums I've heard all year and, although perhaps not many Wilco purists would agree, it is now my favourite Wilco album ever. There's just something about the cohesive nature of the album, the fantastic melodies, the classic harmonies... it's as if they've taken the very best of each genre of rock from the last five decades and distilled it into one easy to swallow and delightfully tasting album. However, however much fun you have spotting the influences throughout, it remains unmistakably Wilco - and that is what makes it such a great piece of work.
From the Neil Young-esque opener, "Wilco (The Song)", which seems to 'lovingly borrow' the riff from Warren Zevon's "Werewolves Of London" and is too catchy for its own good (I was singing it for days), to "Everlasting Everything" which is reminiscent of Crowded House at their haunting best, via the echoes of George Harrison in "You Never Know", every single track is just so eminently pleasing in its own way. "One Wing" is both a superb rock song and a wonderful love song, "Black Bull Nova", again, reminds me of Crowded House at their most inventive. I could easily go on - this is a very strong collection of songs without a single track to let it down.
Nearly every review I have read about this album attempts to put it in context with the rest of Wilco & Jeff Tweedy's career, which is fair enough, but I believe that if "Wilco (The Album)" was a debut album by anyone, people would be falling over themselves to lavish praise on this album - certainly praise a lot higher than I've collectively seen for this, their seventh studio album. In fact, "Wilco (The Album)" is a perfect way to introduce people (who have never discovered Wilco before) to the brilliance of the band. It's a remarkable piece of work and stands head and shoulders above most of the albums released this year.