M&T Best Tracks of 2011: #1

#1. Wilco- “Art of Almost”

Ladies and gentleman we have reached the top, a bittersweet end to our nearly three week long countdown of the best songs of 2011. Last year we argued back and forth over which song was “big” enough to be considered our #1 track of the year. Big in a sense that it is transcendent, yet still accessible. This lead us to settle on Broken Social Scene’s masterpiece “World Sick” over Delta Spirit’s “Bushwick Blues,” both tracks being very deserving of their placements in the Top 3.

This year the argument was a bit shorter as we all agreed that Wilco had produced a “big” song in a very BIG way. Placing “Art of Almost” as the first track on The Whole Love is nothing short of making a powerful statement. A statement that is a far cry from the one that the band made in 2009, when Jeff Tweedy assured us that, “Wilco will love you baby.” Although it’s nice to be loved, in my opinion it is much better to get your face melted off and your mind exploded into a million little pieces.

“Art of Almost” begins with a tense and peculiar intro that leads into a radiant crescendo of strings. And then there is Tweedy’s familiar croon, but not to express the band’s affection for us, rather to explain this art of almost in a manner that is quite perplexing.

“No!/I froze/I can’t be so/Far away from my wasteland/I never know when I might/Ambulance/Hoist the horns with my own hands/Almost/Almost”

While Tweedy describes the comfort zone that is his wasteland, the rest of the band does their best to bring us into musical contentment for the first four and a half minutes of the song. Then right when you think the track has run its course, that is when the real fun starts.

Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline drive the song into the ground with a concise and steady beat, until it explodes into a disciplined disarray of sound, highlighted by Cline’s aforementioned guitar work. At that point you will be motioning towards your phone to call a plastic surgeon who can mop your face up off the floor and stick it back on to your head.

Although the song clocks in at over seven minutes, it seems that Cline’s breakneck solo, and the song itself, ends just as quickly as it began. For all of the appreciation that Wilco has shown us over the years, this gem is all we need to know that Wilco still loves us baby.

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2011

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