Wilco’s 10th studio album, entitled Shmilco, was an unexpected release on Sept. 9. Humorously enough, after 20 years of making music, the musicians have not abandoned their soothing and melancholy habits.

Jeff Tweedy, the lead singer of the group, described the album as “joyously negative” which is truly the most apt description of the record. “Someone To Lose” was the last track to be released as a single and, like many of the album’s songs, embodies this contradiction. The track is prompt in its pacing; with accents of vivid electric guitars, the song does not give much to sadness upon first hearing it. Listening closely to the lyrics is really what gives the group away: “I’m so confused/I can’t move/I can’t even try/I hope you find someone to lose/ Someday.” These doleful words off a twinge of a forlorn misery is hidden within the ostensibly cheery instrumentals.

In contrast to Wilco’s last studio album Star Wars, released in 2015, their newest album is certainly not as derisive or aggressive in terms of arrangements but acknowledges the humor and truth in the group’s penchant for misanthropy.

The musicians relying primarily on acoustic guitar is what gives this album its pensive calmness. “Locater,” one of the more irreverent tracks on the album, still carries a somber velocity. With its cryptic lyrics, anxious guitars, and obsessive drum beats, the song gives off a very peculiar—but almost necessary—sense of dread.

On their newest release Wilco embraces truer pains that they have felt without their former air of innocent arrogance. It has been rare to hear a group create music that is purposefully contradictory. Most bands gravitate to one spectrum or the other, i.e., songs that are really, really depressing or songs that are outrageously cheery. Yet on Schmilco, there is a gracious unification of both.

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