Without any hints or hype, Wilco released their ninth studio album Star Wars Thursday as a surprise free download for fans. “Why release an album this way and why make it free? Well, the biggest reason, and I’m not sure we even need any others, is that it felt like it would be fun,” Jeff Tweedy wrote on Wilco’s Instagram. “What’s more fun than a surprise?” Download the album for free for a limited time from the Wilco World site.
The 11-track album, named after George Lucas’ classic cinematic space saga, marks Wilco’s first album since 2011’s The Whole Love and their second LP on their own dBpm record label, which allows the band to drop an album any way they want. The 33-minute Star Wars, the shortest studio album in the Wilco catalog by nearly 10 minutes, is more sparse and rock-oriented than its recent predecessors, with standouts like “Random Name Generator” and “Cold Slope” orbiting around Star Wars‘ remarkable centerpiece, “You Satellite.”
Star Wars will be available to download for free for the next 30 days through the Wilco site or the three major digital music stores (iTunes, Amazon, Google). The album will also be offered up for streaming via Apple Music, Rdio and Spotify, while USA Today adds that Star Wars is also on Tidal.
When Rolling Stone spoke to the Wilco singer in September 2014 about his Tweedy side project with son Spencer, the elder Tweedy revealed that Wilco tentatively planned on releasing their next album in 2015. However, few expected Wilco to join the ranks of Radiohead, Beyoncé and Drake in releasing a new album without announcement.
Wilco is in the midst of a summer U.S. tour, which included their own Solid Sound festival in Massachusetts. While many of their recent shows have featured tracks from throughout Wilco’s 20-year career (including cuts off the rarities collection Alpha Mike Foxtrot) as well as the group’s first ever all-acoustic gig, Tweedy and company kept their new album’s songs entirely under wraps and off the stage.
Stream Star Wars in its entirety via Wilco’s YouTube below:
Star Wars Track List
3. “Random Name Generator”
4. “The Joke Explained”
5. “You Satellite”
6. “Taste the Ceiling”
7. “Pickled Ginger”
8. “Where Do I Begin”
9. “Cold Slope”
10. “King of You”