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Wilco | Summer Teeth (Reprise)
No Depression is dead and who is more qualified to tell us than Jeff Tweedy, one of its instigators. Pop is now king, or so you'd think when Summer Teeth kicks in. Big, fun songs, Phil Spector meets George Martin and we can all sing along. That is 'til you realise what you're singing. Its as if Elmore Leonard had set his books to music with Tweedy's characters wandering confused and bewildered through an uncaring world. No Depression on Prozac. He screams that 'maybe all I need is a shot in the arm' to help him understand a lover who has changed, while a piano loop mixes with swirling keyboards to add to the melee, but doesn't seem to want to change. The feeling of confusion is a common thread and only finds resolution In a Future Age, the album's closer, but he's not there yet. First he has to go Via Chicago and it's a hell of a Styx (the river, not the band) to cross. Guitar feedback haunts the song as he 'dreamed about killing you again last night'. Brutal anger bubbles like the feedback and when it explodes you feel as if you've been kicked hard and are free-falling through darkness, arms outstretched with no-one to catch you. When his cracked and broken voice returns you realise you're not alone in the plummet, he's alongside you. Even his advice in the preceding How to Fight Loneliness ?? 'just smile all the time' ?? is worthless now, he was just being kind. But there is salvation. After a 23-second silence two bonus tracks turn up. Candyfloss is just that and even has some opera in it! But to make sure you still know the score, another version of Shot in the Arm follows. In the words of the man himself 'I prefer the first one', but its the only let-down. Brutality has never sounded so sweet. Summer Teeth all are real.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #4 - Winter 1998/9 - The Lost Issue