As it’s impossible to discuss The Autumn Defense without Pat Sansone and John Stirratt’s roles in Wilco, so goes another camera tilt in between that Tweedy-helmed ship and this, the bassist and multi-instrumentalist’s fifth record. Titling it simply Fifth should paint a clear picture of what these dudes have been doing since the turn of the millennium, which has always been the mastery of silky 70s light rock, i.e. the kind of vibes that got Wilco in “dad rock” trouble after Sky Blue Sky

Yes, a simple thumb through some of Fifth‘s song titles might make you wince in ambiguous boredom – “Calling Your Name,” “This Thing That I’ve Found,” “Why Don’t We,” “Things on My Mind” – like the two cut that damn thing in one take on a hunger-over Sunday, but after a couple journeys through its 47 minutes and an embracing of the vibes they’re sitting back on, you’ll understand that a mastery of chill soft rock is not only non-Dad-like, but a buttery distressing skill once king in previous generations, but now replaced by chillwave and twenty-somethings with an affinity for flangey surfrock. Just a different kind of class, here, people – i.e. the wood-scraper, barefoot living-room boogie on “Why Don’t We,” horns cruising in after the two get high on easy-breezy life: [LISTEN]

"Why Don't We"

Granted, when Sansone wails on all rainy-day minor-key that ‘through the light of someone’s eyes, he can feel the house getting warmer’ on “The Light In Your Eye,” it can get a little white-collar, as in church collar. Though it’s sequenced right and quick with a Big Star heel-kick of a sunshine handclapper, the aforementioned “Things on My Mind,” that takes a poke at the duldrums of going to see a concert, used as another metaphor for cutting through the drama and bullshit of modern life: [LISTEN]

"Things on My Mind"

If anything, perhaps, with Fifth‘s reemphasis on mellow gold, like Once Around and every Autumn Defense record behind it, people will once and for all cast aside the shadows of Wilco and embrace the cruising speed Sansone and Stirratt have hit again, here. There won’t be anybody falling in love with heavy metal drummers, nor dads christening their ‘tudes rock, but breeze will treat you right if you wave your had through it, worries lost “Under the Wheel:” [LISTEN]

"Under the Wheel"