Wednesday, January 27, 2010

3. A Ghost Is Born - Wilco (2004)

(Taken from the SCQ Review:)

Unlike Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, if A Ghost is Born has any controversy, it’s because Tweedy booked himself into rehab mere days after the record’s release, citing self-medicating and pills as the issue. His diminishing health is audible on record; although his performances give no indication of trouble ahead, Tweedy’s malcontent is woven into both lyrics and music. No example is more glaringly evident than the twelve minutes of sonic layering that close ‘Less Than You Think’, which Tweedy claims is a recreation of the migraines he experienced throughout recording. His mental well-being was also under duress, as heard in the obsessive, ten minute ‘Spiders’ or the paranoid ‘Company in my Back’. Strange to think that despite these gloomy bits of trivia, A Ghost is Born remains a wonderful summer album, carrying little of the content’s burden and offering countless moments of art-rock beauty.

What makes this album one of SCQ’s all-time favourites is how versatile the material is: its sadness is uplifting, its restlessness is peaceful, its sonic ambitions are all over the place. My first taste of the album, ‘Hell is Chrome’, sent a shiver from its tastefully upbeat piano-trot. The ivories suddenly dropped into a jazz-torn heartbeat, where the electric sears in, crisp and mournful, breaking this peaceful dawn like a day’s first carhorn. Underappreciated but well-advanced from its celebrated predecessor, A Ghost is Born is Wilco’s crowning achievement; a record to fall in love with.

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