Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

yankeehotelfoxtrot_coverFor once, the pundits got it right – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the best album of 2002. Not because it stuck one to the man (I don’t see how buying your album from a corporation and selling it back for three times as much is a great blow for independence. If anything, it makes good business sense), but because it is one hell of a listen. Wilco are cozy with the full arrangements and rocking, and with ambient minimalism. They also know how to use silence. The album can be seen as moody, but it doesn’t reach into the depths of despair. Like Neil Young’s On The Beach, there’s a sense of emotional transition, and it never wallows in self-pity. On tracks like “Heavy Metal Drummer,” they have fun. Calling Foxtrot a sonically adventurous album would imply a level of self-consciousness I simply do not hear. The sound is compositional (as opposed to iconoclastic), and the result is a compulsively listenable album that neither meanders nor outstays its welcome. If Radiohead weren’t so goddamned set on Euro-sophistication, they would make albums this good.

Rating: A

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To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com