Wilco – The Whole Love

Wilco has always championed a dense aural dynamic. On recordings such as Sky Blue Sky and Summerteeth, LP versions unscrambled the band’s mix better than their CD counterparts. In keeping with tradition, Wilco again includes a full-length CD with the vinyl edition of The Whole Love for just $25. But this time, it’s different. Once you hear the disc, you may never go back to the vinyl. Mastered by Bob Ludwig, the latter is compressed and rolled-off—and not by a small margin. The CD is tipped a shade to the bright side, but at least has air and dynamics.

From the first track, “The Art of Almost,” the soundstage on the CD extends well beyond the speaker boundaries, exuding life, whereas the LP just presents the song as a little ball of sound between the speakers. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear the vinyl was the CD and vice versa. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any better. Blasé sound infects the entire LP.

It’s unfortunate that, for the first release on its new label, Wilco let the analog quality control slide. Get the deluxe version of the CD that comes with four bonus tracks. This is one instance where the vinyl doesn’t guarantee better sound. —Jeff Dorgay

dBPM/Anti, 180g 2LP