The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | ‘Cousin’ returns Wilco to their soft rock roots with the perfect autumn album

Chicago band Wilco released their 13th album on Sept. 29. While it’s slower paced than their previous work, it has plenty of catchy tunes to be well worth a listen for any rock fan.
Gus Philippas/WFUV.
Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCA, fan karaoke set on Friday, June 28, 2019, broadcast live on WFUV.

Marking their 13th studio album, Chicago-based alt-rock band Wilco released their newest project on Sept. 29. “Cousin” is a welcome return to their most iconic music with hits that are sure to get stuck in your head.

Wilco has always been the band I think of first when I think of the soft rock genre. However, they have recently experimented with features like the twangy guitar sound you usually hear in country songs.

“Cousin” feels like it has all the elements of every Wilco sound, reminiscent of the longer, slower songs of recent years and the popular rock hits of the early 2000s.

The first song of the album, “Infinite Surprise,” emphasized the mood of the music over the lyrics. The pace picked up, the pitch jumped, and the instruments overlapped to create a noisy yet controlled chaos. The song acted as the perfect opener, reflecting how the album evolves with each song.

Some songs felt more experimental, with less emphasis on catchy tunes and more on the content of the song. “Ten Dead,” for example, was a very political song, critiquing the constant tragedy and lack of action in the face of mass shootings, whereas “A Bowl and A Pudding” focused on creating a soundscape.

The variety of songs in this single album was impressive. Between emotional lyrics, jamming out to classic Wilco sounds, and being absorbed in an atmospheric and cozy sound, I found myself enjoying it all.

That cozy sound, however, served as a common denominator throughout the whole album. The synth of the bass guitar in “Meant To Be,” for example, is very relaxing.

A mellow mood is constantly cast over the whole album with drums never pounding so hard they overshadow the groove of the guitars. It felt like a perfect autumn soundtrack, with gentle strumming and the soft singing of lead singer and songwriter Jeff Tweedy.

While it may be a dour and melancholic collection of songs, the classic Wilco-esque soft rock songs like “Evicted” and “Cousin” act as good breaks between segments of the album.

These two songs were released as singles before the full release of the album and are my personal favorites. Their faster tempo made them more exciting, and the tunes got stuck in my head instantly.

With a more classic and familiar soft rock sound, this album has more standout hits than the band’s recent work making “Cousin” my favorite Wilco album in years. Wilco began their international album tour on Sept. 26 and will continue performing throughout 2024.

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About the Contributor
Charlie Hickman
Charlie Hickman, Arts Reporter
Charlie Hickman is a sophomore at the University of Iowa. He is majoring in English on the Pre-Law track with minors in Political Science and Cinema.