(Photo: Zoran Orlic)

Twenty-two years into its existence, the Chicago-based alt-rock band Wilco is as productive as it’s ever been. Maybe more so. Almost exactly one year after releasing the critically-acclaimed Star Wars, we’re getting something brand-new in both content and form. In juxtaposition to the “roughhewn, fuzzed-out blast” that was its last release, Schmilco—the third from the band’s own dBpm Records—seems to be intentionally more sedate, relying on mostly acoustic instrumentation instead of the tricked-out arrangements and pedal-fueled soundscapes fans have grown accustomed to over their last several offerings.

To get an idea of what we can expect from this new album, take a listen to “Locator,” which was dropped a few days ago, and the newly released “If I Ever Was A Child”:

These two singles might sound pretty, but their melodious qualities belie the thick and viscous pool of bile from which they were born. “I think this record is ‘joyously negative.’ It’s sad in a lot of ways, but not in any that reach a conclusion of doom or hopelessness,” vocalist-songwriter Jeff Tweedy says in a statement. “I just had a lot of fun being sour about the things that upset me.”

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Schmilco’s cover art was created by surrealist Spanish illustrator Joan Cornella, whose pitch-black sense of humor seems to be right in line with Tweedy’s mindset for this collection of songs.

Image: Joan Cornella