Wilco's first album on their own label opens with one kind of extreme, the mounting Stooges-like turmoil of "Art of Almost," and ends with another: the 12-minute acoustic ballad "One Sunday Morning." "A lot has been made of our experimentation," says singer-songwriter Jeff Tweedy. "But I've always thought that anything I create I should be able to carry with me. A song that works with just a voice and guitar is ideal for communication." The rest of The Whole Love could probably fit in Tweedy's backpack. In between the first and last tracks are 10 compact packages of punkish jangle ("Standing O"), cosmic-country introspection ("Rising Red Lung") and jaunty hum-along pleasure ("Whole Love"), like the roots rock and forward-pop kicks on 1996's Being There rinsed through the eerie sonic drama of 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. "That's the story of almost every Wilco record," bassist John Stirratt says of those contrasting strains. "It's a question of editing and choosing things that need to belong."
By David Fricke