100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #49

Wilco – Summerteeth
There’s a scene in a mediocre film called ‘The Darwin Awards’ in which a woman tells the hero to play ‘She’s A Jar’ on ‘Summerteeth’ to help him seduce a receptionist. What the writer of the film clearly didn’t see was that ‘She’s A Jar’ is about abuse; in a song that sounds pleasantly tired and affectionate, Jeff Tweedy finishes on the line “You know she begs me not to hit her”. Then again, that’s the kind of record that ‘Summerteeth’ is; it’s brilliant, often sunny alt. country pop music, slightly tainted so you don’t immediately see the misery lurking beneath the surface. That, however, isn’t its only triumph of this record. Its whole character is just that tiny bit twisted; it knows that it’s in pain, but not why, or how to express any of it. Often its most jaunty songs are its most miserable at heart, but that doesn’t stop them being addictive and infectious, as well as being sonically interesting: one foot in misery, the other in artificial novocaine-induced contentment.
Plus I’ll be grateful to anyone who can tell me what the hell that is on the cover…

Listen to: A Shot In The Arm


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