Wilco’s ‘Ode to Joy’ delivers under a pulsing beat, with a love letter to Chicago, its home

The band takes a more understated musical approach on its 11th album. You’ll want to see the music video for ‘Everyone Hides,’ featuring the band in a Beatles-esque hide-and-seek game on Chicago’s streets.

SHARE Wilco’s ‘Ode to Joy’ delivers under a pulsing beat, with a love letter to Chicago, its home
Wilco.

Wilco.

Provided photo

From the opening beats of the first song on Wilco’s “Ode to Joy” (dBpm), it’s clear the band’s new album is driven by drummer Glenn Kotche.

Setting a one-two march-like beat on “Bright Leaves,” Kotche drives the song and ultimately the entire album forward as lead singer Jeff Tweedy’s vocals and lyrics explore familiar themes of loss, pain, exhaustion and even joy.

Wilco — which returns to Chicago for four shows at the Chicago Theatre Dec. 15, 16, 18 and 19 — takes a more understated, minimalist musical approach on “Ode,” its 11th album. Acoustic instruments and subtly sung vocals (and that ever-present drum beat) win out over howling guitars and anthem rock choruses.

“Ode to Joy” by Wilco.

“Ode to Joy” by Wilco.

dBpm

Every Wilco album has its own personality. This one almost feels like a Tweedy-Kotche duo effort, with the rest of the band making guest appearances as needed.

But two songs that more fully showcase the entire band are standouts. On “Love is Everywhere (Beware),” Tweedy strikes a cautionary pose about being too accepting of the love that surrounds us while also welcoming it. On “Everyone Hides,” Kotche drives an infectious beat and memorable melody.

The music video for that song — which features the band in a Beatles-esque hide-and-seek game on Chicago’s streets — is worth seeking out.

Think of it as a love letter to the city that’s the band’s home, with a sly wink and nod to Wilco’s fans and the band’s history.

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