At its best, music is supernatural. It's the art of using physical devices to make something that can't be seen. It's the mystery of people organizing invisible waves in ways that shape emotion, suspend time and elicit thought.
Over the past 15 years, Wilco have grown to be masters of making music. On their ninth album, the Chicago rock band's self-confidence is revealed in a seven-minute opening track that doesn't have an ounce of filler.
"Art of Almost" frames the theme of this record - the universal experience of perceiving what's good and beautiful juxtaposed against the daily reality of everything that keeps us from it. In the song's final verse, Jeff Tweedy sings, "Tomorrow I'll have all the love I could ever ache, and I'll leave almost with you." It's followed by two minutes of gently rising psychedelic rock fury, uninterrupted by words.
The album's masterpiece is "Born Alone." It's four minutes of searing bittersweet sadness, carried by a simple and hopeful guitar riff that slowly grows distorted and cinematic as the song progresses. The metamorphosis is fueled by Tweedy's lyrical determination to "subtract the silence of myself" amid a resounding resignation that "I was born to die alone."
The wordplay of the album's title says it all - love modified by an adjective that means an entirety, or, minus one letter, a pit. The Whole Love navigates allure and disappointment in pleasingly painful ways.