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Wilco - Cousin (Album Review)

Monday, 02 October 2023 Written by Jo Higgs

Photo: Peter Crosby

Wilco’s ‘Cousin’ documents a particular feeling: the sensation of being an outlier while also maintaining a connection. For Jeff Tweedy, being a “cousin to the world” is about forming part of a family while knowing that you’re far from central to the group. 

Going into the band’s Chicago studio, The Loft, with Cate Le Bon, the Welsh psych-pop songwriter and producer, they were inspired to record songs that pivoted in all manner of directions, hinging on that classic Tweedy songwriting style. 

Between Wilco’s songs and Le Bon’s production each track is brimming with tension. Take, for example, the unexpected chord changes and lyrical contents of Ten Dead, or the way the extra percussion, synths and guitars sneak and slink in Levee.

Propelled by frantic tick-tocking, Infinite Surprise swells and falls as guitars and horns tangle amid Tweedy’s exasperated attempts at clinging onto his identity: “If you were only you, if I were only me / If you were only you, where would I be?” 

This feeling of prickliness between different states drives the album, with the title track a front-runner in terms of pushing and pulling. The rhythmic, mechanised instrumental, and rasping, near-vicious vocal performance, shove it out of Wilco’s (admittedly expansive) home territory. Musically, it exists in a state of unrest between its own constitution and what we expect of the Illinois group. 

‘Cousin’ is not quite classic Wilco, but let that take nothing away from its own power and sense of creativity. It’s full of the warm Nels Cline guitar parts and Tweedian musings that make a Wilco record what it is, but it also slips down different avenues and explores a sense of introspection that is paramount to the experience.

Wilco Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue October 03 2023 - SCOTTSDALE Arizona - Scottsdale Civic Center Mall (USA)
Wed October 04 2023 - LOS ANGELES - Theatre at Ace (USA)
Thu October 05 2023 - LOS ANGELES - Theatre at Ace (USA)
Fri October 06 2023 - LOS ANGELES - Theatre at Ace (USA)
Wed October 11 2023 - LOS ANGELES California - Bellwether (USA)
Thu October 12 2023 - LOS ANGELES - Bellwether (USA)
Fri October 13 2023 - SANTA BARBARA California - Arlington Theatre Santa Barbara (USA)
Sat October 14 2023 - BERKELEY California - Greek Theatre Berkeley (USA)
Mon October 16 2023 - PORTLAND Oregon - Keller Auditorium (USA)
Tue October 17 2023 - SEATTLE Washington - Paramount Theatre Seattle (USA)
Wed October 18 2023 - SEATTLE Washington - Paramount Theatre Seattle (USA)
Fri October 20 2023 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - Delta Performance Hall at the Eccles Theater (USA)
Sun October 22 2023 - DENVER Colorado - Mission Ballroom (USA)
Mon October 23 2023 - LA VISTA Nebraska - Mainstage at The Astro (USA)
Wed October 25 2023 - KANSAS CITY Missouri - Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland (USA)
Thu October 26 2023 - ST LOUIS Missouri - Stifel Theatre (USA)
Fri October 27 2023 - BENTONVILLE Arkansas - Momentary (USA)

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Thu 14 Sep 2023
Wilco Share Title Track Of New Cate Le Bon-Produced Album 'Cousin'
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