That’s a ‘none’ over there and that’s a ‘seven’ down there. Which might sound controversial – except it shouldn’t. In fact, this constitutes the biggest problem of later-period Wilco: Jeff Tweedy can no longer pen a really inescapable, breathtaking classic, but he can still write an album full of consistently nice, pleasant sounding tunes. These tunes will still satisfy the fan or the loyal critic (some even called this stuff adventurous!), but they will mean little to everyone else.
In places The Whole Love sounds like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot vol.2, where the mere loveliness of the songs was compensated with that ‘edgy’ coating of electronic effects (check out the opening epic “Art Of Almost”). The only difference being, the melodies of The Whole Love are somewhat weaker. While there’s no denying the mellow, acoustic pleasantness of tracks like “Open Mind” or, say, “Capitol City”, in the end they just come off underwhelming. It’s diet alt.country, and it’s diet Wilco. But there are painfully good moments, too, not least in the aforementioned “Art Of Almost”, the bouncy organ-driven “I Might” or the lilting title track. But there’s not a single song on The Whole Love I couldn’t live without. Anything on par with “Forget The Flowers”? “Outta Mind (Outta Sight)”? “She’s A Jar”? “Jesus Etc.”? “Theologians”? Hell no.
If Tweedy is your personal hero, and you don’t mind lowering your expectations, who knows, you might end up loving it. The Whole Love is certainly very enjoyable, and it is certainly better than their last couple of albums. But the fact remains: Jeff Tweedy should listen to the recently released comeback of The Jayhawks. He might learn something.