BEST OF 2016

MAGNET’s #21 Album Of 2016: Wilco’s “Schmilco”


Wilco’s Star Wars wasn’t just MAGNET’s 2015 album of the year; it was also a surprising soft reboot. After a few LPs of trying to be all things to all fans, the band found new life by hunkering down in one general direction—cheerfully bent, borderline-glam guitar pop—for 34 quick minutes. One year later, Schmilco continues Wilco’s creative winning streak. This time, the band gets extra minimalist with 12 songs largely built off of Jeff Tweedy’s folky acoustic guitar and Glenn Kotche’s patiently intricate drum work. You’ll be amazed how gently the six-person band can play these whispery tunes, with each member still putting his stamp on the proceedings. Schmilco’s jokey title paired with typically macabre cover art from Spanish cartoonist Joan Cornellà might suggest some cognitive dissonance, but Wilco is on assured ground here. The band can subtly twist the album’s sound from gossamer pop (“Happiness”) to knotty post-rock (“Locator”). And the songs, especially “If I Ever Was A Child” and “We Aren’t The World (Safety Girl),” provide a salve for listeners, whether they’re dealing with a stressful job, a heartache or just aghast about the shitshow of 2016.

—Michael Pelusi