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Review: Wilco's 'Ode to Joy' delivers under pulsing beat

Wilco, "Ode to Joy" (dBpm) From the opening beats of the first song on Wilco's latest album "Ode to Joy," it's clear this is a record driven by drummer Glenn Kotche. Setting a one-two march-like beat on "Bright Leaves," Kotche drives the song and ultimately the record forward as lead singer Jeff Tweedy's vocals and lyrics explore familiar themes of loss, pain, exhaustion and yes, even joy.

It's a more understated minimalistic musical approach for Wilco on its 11th record. Acoustic instruments and subtly sung vocals (and that ever-present drum beat) win out over howling guitars and anthem rock choruses.

Every Wilco record has a personality of its own. This one almost feels like a Tweedy-Kotche duo effort, with the rest of the band making guest appearances as warranted. But it's two songs that more fully showcase the entire band that are standouts on "Ode to Joy."

On "Love is Everywhere (Beware)," Tweedy strikes a cautionary pose about being too accepting of the love that surrounds us, while also welcoming it. And on "Everyone Hides," Kotche drives an infectious beat and memorable melody.

The music video for that song — which features the band on a Beatles-esque hide and seek game in the streets of Chicago — is worth seeking out. Think of it as a love letter to the city the band calls home, with a sly wink and a nod to the Wilco's fans and its own history.

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