A Ghost Is Born (Nonesuch)

Wilco 

A Ghost Is Born (Nonesuch)

Subtlety is key on Wilco's follow-up to one of the most acclaimed albums of the past decade. But A Ghost Is Born doesn't feel pressured in the wake of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It is a dramatic departure in tone and texture, and it courses with low-key lyrical tension, which hints at the effect of the departures of guitarist Jay Bennett and multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach. Ghost relies more on composition than on the heady atmospherics that so successfully pulled listeners into YHF, but it also manages a more understated complexity. In fact, one might be misled into thinking this is folk. And acoustic guitar and vulnerable vocals do inhabit the core of the songs, but the structures become progressively weirder. Which is a good thing, even if the intentional repetition of "Muzzle of Bees" and "Less Than You Think" is a little too demanding. Indeed, 12 minutes of the same droning sound effect is going way too far and seems to contradict the album's otherwise restrained vibe. But Ghost intensifies and slowly unravels with each listen, offering compelling new angles for a band still running full-steam on fresh ideas.

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