First of all the name. Wilco gets some credit for the amusing self-deprecation. The name was likely intended to lighten the mood of the album. Tweedy’s lyrics are emotional and personal, more so than any recent Wilco and maybe ever. Consider these lines from the first song on the album “Normal American Kids:”Oh, all of my spirit leaked like a cut / I knew what I needed would never be enough / I was too high to change my bid / Always afraid to be a normal american kid.” Themes of childhood, growing up, and trying to be happy are present lyrically throughout the album. In this way the album feels quite introspective and honest.
Musically, I found the album a bit boring. Largely acoustic, the songs all sound pretty similar. I didn’t find it as artistically interesting as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (an aside: YHF is one of the 20ish CDs I keep in my car which only plays CDs, so I listen to it and love it a lot.) Schmilco is super mellow and great easy listening but lacks enough musical variation to really capture the listener’s attention. Locator (9th song on the record) gets kinda noisy towards the end which lends a bit of interest.
Regardless of my quibbles the album is worth listening to if not at least for the title. He makes fun of “We Are the World” in track 11, “We Aren’t the World (Safety Girl)” which made me laugh a little. With songs like that, the album title, and the amusing album art we can’t really be sure how serious Wilco is taking themselves right now which I kinda like. But also the lyrics are sometimes quite serious so I’m not sure what to make of everything.
Okay this is a pretty mediocre review, but I have to write a paper.