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Album Review

Tweedy and Wilco just want to rock

June 29, 2009
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Rock
Wilco Wilco (The Album)
Nonesuch
ESSENTIAL “Deeper Down’’
Wilco plays at LeLacheur Park in Lowell on July 11.

Sometimes “important’’ bands just want to make good rock records. Which isn’t to say that the adventurous spirit that elevated Chicago rockers Wilco from alt-country upstarts to vanguard indie experimentalists isn’t rattling around the group’s seventh album. That specter has simply taken on a mellower form on “Wilco (the album).’’

Jeff Tweedy (above) and his merry band of musical omnivores dial back the squirrelly avant left turns in favor of ambling guitar rock (“Wilco (the song)’’), hushed laments (“Country Disappeared’’), and Beatles-flavored pop psychedelia (“Deeper Down’’). In other words, there’s a little bit of everything that they’ve done well in the past on early albums like “A.M.’’ and “Summerteeth.’’

There are plenty of pleasing musical quirks that follow in the footsteps of their more recent catalog, too. Consider how the guitars grow from insistent needling to wild and wired on “Bull Black Nova,’’ mirroring the menacing lyrics about encroachment and evoking the skewed sensibility of Split Enz. Or there’s the way Tweedy’s pinched-yet-emotive rasp drily scrapes up against the increasingly frantic soundscapes of “One Wing.’’ And if only because the band hasn’t been known for its soulful stylings, it’s a pleasant surprise to hear “You Never Know’’ shamble along to a Sly Stone groove.

Like with many good rock records, bits of whimsy, melancholy, confusion, and joy swirl around the songs of “Wilco (the album).’’ So while it may not feel as groundbreaking as previous releases, it’s just as human. (Out tomorrow) SARAH RODMAN