May 11, 2006

The second album from Wilco head honcho Jeff Tweedy, producer/guitarist/ composer Jim O’ Rourke, and drummer Glenn Kotche proves more succinct, and in the end, a more pleasurable listen than the trio’s 2003 debut. That’s not to say that Born Again In The USA is scaled back. To the contrary, Born Again is just as ambitious with its dense swirls of acoustic and electric guitar, marimba, and nattering rhythms. It’s just that Born Again sounds more like the work of a band rather than three guys pouring over their studio sketches for months on end. The record gets off to a rousing start with “Hey Chicken,” as it stomps around like an art school version of Aerosmith, while the second track, “The Ruling Class,” sports a breezy bounce, complete with a whistled refrain. As you get further into the record, the textures get deeper, the tunes more adventurous, and the guitars begin to bounce around with contrapuntal impunity. For example, “Pretty Sparks” sports a jittery groove and gut-punching power chord hits, eventually giving way to complex, circular acoustic lines delivered at whisper volumes, before the track drifts into a sinewy, fuzz-warbled outro. O’Rourke’s production casts every guitar part in a stunning light, as he places them in and around every melody and percussion part, with mind-blowing musical results. An amazing record that defies categorization.(Drag City).

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