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Wilco, ‘If I Ever Was a Child’

Jul 22, 2016

Wilco, 'If I Ever Was a Child'

Wilco, schmilco. If you haven’t said it, someone has: When a group possesses that lethal combination of storied tenure, critical acclaim, and annoying nicknames (take "Kings of Dad Rock," for example) then they're bound to draw as many people who want to reduce them to nothing more than a product of years of overblown, indie-fed hype as die-hard fans. One of the best ways Wilco has found to deal with this phenomenon is to simply be in on the joke — this time, by actually naming their forthcoming album Schmilco and decking out the cover with a wickedly funny cartoon wherein an actual dad uses his own finger to help power a record player, becoming, quite literally, a purveyor of Rock by Dad.

While Wilco's last LP, Star Wars, veered well into their own unique catalogue of dissonant melodies, a newly released song from Schmilco, "If I Ever Was a Child," is driven by a much simpler strum. With Jeff Tweedy's voice on soft echo, it's a quieter, even gently twangy incarnation of the Chicago band — almost as if it were a stripped-down, acoustic version of something off of 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, full of twisted, melancholy metaphors that few are better at conjuring. "Cry like a windowpane," sings Tweedy in a playful yet tearful turn of phrase. There's no sturdy narrative here, just a pondering over what could have been or once was, showing that they're as equally good at being beautifully simple as they are at being beautifully complex. Wilco doesn't need to prove themselves to anybody — and what the hell is Dad Rock, anyway? — but taking things back to the basics is one surefire way to do it. Dad Rock, Schmad Rock.

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Wilco, 'If I Ever Was a Child'