A collaboration between The Minus 5 (Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey, Ken Stringfellow of the Posies and Peter Buck) and Wilco would be expected to yield a rootsy, upbeat clutch of pop tunes. What "Down With Wilco" actually ends up being is a spot-on revisiting of the lush, cynical melodicism of Harry Nilsson and Todd Rundgren. Seldom pushing beyond steady, midtempo beauty, McCaughey has restrained his more visceral instincts in favor of crafting an album that positively drips with self-aware perfection. The boys in Wilco seem to have been largely responsible for the atmospheric wisps that flesh out the album's sound (the buzzing trippiness lying behind the crystalline pop of "The Old Plantation" is a fine example), while McCaughey constructed the cranky-bastard-at-the-piano melodies at its core. That these 13 songs were arranged and produced over two sessions lasting a mere seven days is testament to the strong grip on pop form that both groups have.
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