a ghost is born

  • Record Label: Nonesuch
  • Release Date: Jun 22, 2004
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 121 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 4 out of 121

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  1. WesM.
    Oct 4, 2008
    10
    Is it crazy that I liked this way more than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot?
  2. evilb.
    Jan 20, 2005
    9
    it is amazing! i thought that YHF would be the end of wilco: you simply can't go on re-inventing yourself. and yet... this record is clearly wilco, but not as you've heard it before: it sounds dirtier than YHF, rougher on the edges. and i llllove it, Tweedy takes his electric guitar further than ever before. listen the opening track "at least that's what you said" and try it is amazing! i thought that YHF would be the end of wilco: you simply can't go on re-inventing yourself. and yet... this record is clearly wilco, but not as you've heard it before: it sounds dirtier than YHF, rougher on the edges. and i llllove it, Tweedy takes his electric guitar further than ever before. listen the opening track "at least that's what you said" and try not to think about Neil Young! great record! Expand
  3. ale
    Sep 20, 2006
    9
    Sure, nothing's perfect, but this is my favorite Wilco album. While I love YHF, I think it was so quickly embraced by (some) critics partly because it appeared "dangerous" or "difficult" in light of WB refusing to release it (the pussies). And so there was (IMO) a bit of a backlash against AGIB, a far better album in many respects. I think all the hipper-than-thou critics bashed this Sure, nothing's perfect, but this is my favorite Wilco album. While I love YHF, I think it was so quickly embraced by (some) critics partly because it appeared "dangerous" or "difficult" in light of WB refusing to release it (the pussies). And so there was (IMO) a bit of a backlash against AGIB, a far better album in many respects. I think all the hipper-than-thou critics bashed this record because Wilco had perhaps moved to a higher commercial plain. Anyway, AGIB has some of my favorite Wilco songs on it, and though I usually skip Less Than You Think, I also don't dismiss it out of hand just because it's unconventional. A great album that fits nicely in the Wilco catalog. Expand
  4. eliasb
    Jun 21, 2004
    8
    after all the hype of YHF i was worried Wilco would come out with a dud, A Ghost Is Born isnt. It's a solid album that makes some changes to the last album and creates a couple of totally new styles as well. Spiders (Kidsmoke) is Wilco's most challenging song to date and if you let i t seep into your brain, you will be heavily rewarded.
  5. JMarkum
    Jul 1, 2004
    9
    although not a classic like YHF, Wilco have yet again made a remarkably strong album. The most interesting thing about this one is how difficult it is, nothing comes rather easy besides Hummingbird. I recommend.
  6. JonH
    Jul 2, 2004
    10
    Another wonderful album from Wilco, Since Being There They've been releasing one classic after the other, amazing band.
  7. JoeyM
    Jul 6, 2004
    9
    I can understand how a fan who just discovered Wilco as a result of YHF would be disappointed with this release. Indeed, if one was unaware of how different YHF was from Summerteeth - and how different Summerteeth was from Being There - one would be surprised by how different this album is. "Different" is a word that Jeff Tweedy, Wilco's frontman, takes seriously. His music continues I can understand how a fan who just discovered Wilco as a result of YHF would be disappointed with this release. Indeed, if one was unaware of how different YHF was from Summerteeth - and how different Summerteeth was from Being There - one would be surprised by how different this album is. "Different" is a word that Jeff Tweedy, Wilco's frontman, takes seriously. His music continues to progress, taking him and the band in different directions from year to year. AGIB is, in some ways, a move away from the sonic expirementation of YHF and, in another way, a move more deeply into that same spirit. For example, "Handshake Drugs" (in many ways the CD's centerpiece) keeps it together for four or five minutes before descending into noise. "Less Than You Think" takes this idea even further, devolving into 11 minutes of static. Allegedly, this is because Tweedy wanted the album to be Interactive - in other words, stand up and hit the "next track button." Perhaps this also explains the blast of Neil Young-style guitar that almost blew my speakers out after the quiet opening of "At Least That's What You Said." The album features several stand out tracks - I think "Hummingbird," "Theoloians" and "Handshake Drugs" are among the best Wilco tracks yet. It also holds together as an album, taking us on a dark, personal journey through Tweedy's life. It took me several listens to enjoy this album - you might not like it on first listen. See if you feel differently on listen #10, though. It is well worth it. Expand
  8. lucasw
    Oct 3, 2004
    9
    I don't know if I just haven't listened to YHF enough. Would Wilco recieve the critiiscm for A Ghost... if they hadn't released YHF before it. I think song for song this is one of the best albums released this year. Sure it's self indulgent all albums are they are a personal extension of the person writing them. Luckily for us it Jeff Tweedy and Co. being I don't know if I just haven't listened to YHF enough. Would Wilco recieve the critiiscm for A Ghost... if they hadn't released YHF before it. I think song for song this is one of the best albums released this year. Sure it's self indulgent all albums are they are a personal extension of the person writing them. Luckily for us it Jeff Tweedy and Co. being self-indulgent, and not some crappy band. The solo's are awesome, the lyrics ultra-personal. It's a great album, on the very first listen. Expand
  9. DevendraG
    Jun 21, 2004
    10
    Best of '04. In every way an equal to Summerteeth and YHF, this album is sure to please many a Wilco fan: a record that is earnest, intimate, fresh, and entirely human. Give it a few spins though, as this is definitely Wilco's most challenging release to date.
  10. jibink
    Jun 23, 2004
    10
    Easy to get lost in this one, the most interesting album of the year so far...love it!
  11. IanR
    Jun 24, 2004
    10
    this album is amazing... another new, creative, unexpected work from wilco. more organic and warm sounding than yankee hotel foxtrot, with some amazing guitar works the likes of which have never really been seen from wilco. on par with YHF, not necessarily better but not at all worse, and entirely different.
  12. wo
    Jun 26, 2004
    7
    I appreciate the fact that they are doing different things this time out; however, it just doesn't come across as convincingly as before. I was kind of dissappointed with it at first, and although it is growing on me "a ghost is born" doesn't show as much potential as it's predecessor.
  13. d.sling
    Jun 30, 2004
    9
    This one tops YHF. It may lack some of the gems that "Being There" had, but it's consistently inventive and enjoyable. My only discretion is that prolonged sonic drone on track 11.
  14. markf
    Jul 10, 2004
    9
    If you love Wilco, then you will love this. I'm one of those crazies who loves the whole album. I have no problem with any of the "difficult" songs. It's not perfect but in my opinion, it's as close as they've ever come. Neil Young and Billy Doherty would be proud. This album might not be as awesome as "the Beatles" or "After the Gold Rush", but it's as close as If you love Wilco, then you will love this. I'm one of those crazies who loves the whole album. I have no problem with any of the "difficult" songs. It's not perfect but in my opinion, it's as close as they've ever come. Neil Young and Billy Doherty would be proud. This album might not be as awesome as "the Beatles" or "After the Gold Rush", but it's as close as anyone can get. I'm not going to go into the "troubles'" with " people's problems." Just enjoy this for what it is. A mind-blowing genre-expanding walk on the wild side. Expand
  15. MookiePatookie
    Jul 15, 2004
    10
    Anyone who gives this cd less than 9 does not have ears to hear with!! Tweedy and co. stand on the shoulders of giants to produce yet another masterpiece!
  16. DC
    Jul 1, 2004
    10
    A solid album. The lyrics are Tweedy's usual uneven output--several gems buried in a whole lot o' "huh?"--but the work as a whole is a wonderful mood piece. It fits nicely into the background without ever allowing you to ignore it. In reality, I'd give Ghost an 8, but I bumped that up to a 10 to offset idiots who unjustly gave it a 0.
  17. StanleyI
    Jul 5, 2004
    10
    Sublime
  18. AdamK
    Jun 6, 2005
    10
    Richer and more dense than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, this album leads the way for Rock and Roll into the future; with the exception of some work by Radohead, there hasn't been as good of an album in 25 years.
  19. KalleL
    May 31, 2006
    10
    Wilco may be my favorite band - all categories. Thier last is their best!
  20. joeln
    Mar 14, 2007
    10
    This is by far my fave Wilco album and i have all of them, yeah "Summerteeth" is great but for me this is the album i find myself always going back to. "Less than you Think" is a freaking great song, it's just the noise for 10 minutes that people shouldnt enjoy, but the song is beautiful. "Hell is Chrome" is the best song of all time, along with "Theologains" Listen Up, AGISB is a This is by far my fave Wilco album and i have all of them, yeah "Summerteeth" is great but for me this is the album i find myself always going back to. "Less than you Think" is a freaking great song, it's just the noise for 10 minutes that people shouldnt enjoy, but the song is beautiful. "Hell is Chrome" is the best song of all time, along with "Theologains" Listen Up, AGISB is a Classic! You'll See! Expand
  21. StevenPro
    May 8, 2008
    10
    Stylus' review is spot on. This album is absolutely stunning.
  22. EricH
    Jun 21, 2004
    10
    A delightful masterpiece. More complex than YHF, and consequently a more mature Tweedy shines through.
  23. BairdM
    Jun 21, 2004
    9
    Expectations are high. Forget them. Expectations are a waste of time. Just listen to it and try not to fall in love. A Ghost Is Born is one more badge of genius for one of the best and underrated bands in the world. There are some of the best riffs I've heard in years on there and the lyrics are stellar as per usual. Wilco has a particular knack for the gorgeous that doesn't Expectations are high. Forget them. Expectations are a waste of time. Just listen to it and try not to fall in love. A Ghost Is Born is one more badge of genius for one of the best and underrated bands in the world. There are some of the best riffs I've heard in years on there and the lyrics are stellar as per usual. Wilco has a particular knack for the gorgeous that doesn't look like it's going anywhere. Necessity made me download. Out of fanticism, I will buy. Expand
  24. [Anonymous]
    Jun 22, 2004
    10
    rocks. you gotta listen to it over a period of time to get it. when you do, you realize it's amazing.
  25. andyc
    Jun 23, 2004
    10
    wilco evolves, if you give this a bad rating you are lieing to yourself, they have melodic power, lyrical power, briliiant arrangements, original, honest guitar playing by tweedy, another wilco classic
  26. christophes
    Jun 25, 2004
    9
    Not as perfect as YHF but once again largely above the average... and the concurence
  27. SchwineyP
    Jul 14, 2004
    9
    I think its their best effort. Definitely a "headphone" record.
  28. stanh
    Sep 13, 2004
    9
    I complain about this album -- too long, too self-indulgent, too whatever -- and yet I continue to listen to it and derive great pleasure from it. I think I'm actually starting to like it better than YHF. And yet I still complain, but a little less each time. Tweedy & Co. slowly, surely sink their hooks into me. To those who malign: How many times have you listened to A Ghost Is I complain about this album -- too long, too self-indulgent, too whatever -- and yet I continue to listen to it and derive great pleasure from it. I think I'm actually starting to like it better than YHF. And yet I still complain, but a little less each time. Tweedy & Co. slowly, surely sink their hooks into me. To those who malign: How many times have you listened to A Ghost Is Born? I know it's 2004, but trying having some patience. It's reckless, heartfelt, pain-bred beauty. Expand
  29. SeamusS
    Nov 1, 2005
    10
    Easily Their Most Accesable And Brillaint Album. Though its hard to compare it to Yanke Hotel Foxtrot, its easier to say that it comes together much better on first listens. Brilliant album.
  30. ElliottM
    Oct 15, 2005
    10
    It's a flawed album, yet it's still a perfect album. My favorite album of 2004.
  31. Peter
    Feb 6, 2005
    10
    This album will go down as a classic and one of the best of the decade. I love every single track but the highlights are "Hummingbird", "Company in my Back" and "Spiders". For those people who like Wilco and were disappointed with this album, I strongly encourage you to give it a second, third and even fourth listen on a really good pair of speakers.
  32. MicahA
    Apr 21, 2005
    10
    I have been reading all the reviews; amazon, pitchfork, etc. None of them truly capture the beauty in this album. This CD is my FAVORITE CD currently. The album spans the largest spectrum yet, and "Muzzle of Bees" shows this wonderfully; slow and methodical at the beginning, and then it moves into one of the most beautiful and melodical pieces of music I have heard in all of my life. I have been reading all the reviews; amazon, pitchfork, etc. None of them truly capture the beauty in this album. This CD is my FAVORITE CD currently. The album spans the largest spectrum yet, and "Muzzle of Bees" shows this wonderfully; slow and methodical at the beginning, and then it moves into one of the most beautiful and melodical pieces of music I have heard in all of my life. Although it is a "departure" from YFH, and the music is more spontaneus and the lyrics do lack some of the luster they once did, the critics should not be penalizing them for it. All in all, A Ghost Is Born is my favorite album of 2004. Expand
  33. RobS.
    Aug 14, 2005
    9
    A year on from its release, I consider Ghost a collection of now-classic Wilco songs. That is, it's not quite as strong an *album* as their last two, but I easily can identify seven brilliant songs on it (Kidsmoke, Hell is Chrome, Hummingbird, I'm a Wheel, Wishful Thinking, Theologians and The Late Greats) and the remaining songs, for me, range from decent to quite strong. Some A year on from its release, I consider Ghost a collection of now-classic Wilco songs. That is, it's not quite as strong an *album* as their last two, but I easily can identify seven brilliant songs on it (Kidsmoke, Hell is Chrome, Hummingbird, I'm a Wheel, Wishful Thinking, Theologians and The Late Greats) and the remaining songs, for me, range from decent to quite strong. Some music requires more than a few cursory hearings to appreciate it. It took me over a year to find my way into Summerteeth. You know that revelatory feeling you get when you decide one day to listen to a song on an album that you'd historically skipped past, only to find yourself now ga-ga for it? It's a great feeling! I probably have some ways to go with Ghost to fully get to that place where everything makes sense and the communications each song offers are received. But my first year with Ghost has me hopeful I'm going to be surprised and pleased by what I eventually find deep inside of it. Expand
  34. EvertonC
    Sep 7, 2005
    9
    Ethereal, human and virtual at the same time... The expected sequence for YHF, which was Wilco's masterpiece to date.
  35. FionaE
    Feb 17, 2006
    10
    An exciting album. It was on my turntable for weeks and months without change. A firm favourite
  36. Al
    May 17, 2006
    7
    The songwriting on this album simply isn't up to par with that of Summerteeth or YHF. The first two tracks are the best on the album (and there are a few other nice bits), but the white-noise crap towards the end of the album is a total turn off. You can express yourself a lot better by choosing good songwriting over dissonance.
  37. RJMcClaine
    Jan 9, 2007
    7
    many of the songs are fantastic: at least that's what you said, hell is chrome, muzzle of bees, handshake drugs, wishful thinking, company in my back. some are bad: spiders (kidsmoke) is 4 times as long as it should be....the divine riff just gets cloying; less than you think and the late greats are rubbish. the rest are just so-so: hummingbird, i'm a wheel, theologians. all in many of the songs are fantastic: at least that's what you said, hell is chrome, muzzle of bees, handshake drugs, wishful thinking, company in my back. some are bad: spiders (kidsmoke) is 4 times as long as it should be....the divine riff just gets cloying; less than you think and the late greats are rubbish. the rest are just so-so: hummingbird, i'm a wheel, theologians. all in all, though, it's a great collection of songs. Expand
  38. Joseph
    Jul 16, 2007
    8
    A true grower. Easily, Wilco's most difficult album, yet after several (for some, many) listens, the beauty of many of these songs shine thorugh and one realizes that they are among the best in Wilco's breathtakingly brilliant catalog. Tweedy's guitar playing snarls and bites throughout ("At Least That's What You Said", "Spiders (Kidsmoke)") and his lyrics are as A true grower. Easily, Wilco's most difficult album, yet after several (for some, many) listens, the beauty of many of these songs shine thorugh and one realizes that they are among the best in Wilco's breathtakingly brilliant catalog. Tweedy's guitar playing snarls and bites throughout ("At Least That's What You Said", "Spiders (Kidsmoke)") and his lyrics are as strong as ever. Not quite a step forward from YHF but certainly not a retread by any means either. The only complaint is Jim O'Rourke's production is surprisingly flat and there's a noticeable lack of dynamics throughout the records. The greatness of these songs truly shines through live, as can be heard on the superior "Kicking Television" double-album. Expand
  39. Felix
    Jul 6, 2007
    7
    It's an average album; Less Than You Think is the worst song in the album followed by Late Greats. Only about half the songs on the are good, including the excellent Wishful Thinking and Company In My Back.
  40. John
    Nov 29, 2004
    10
    Despite some negative reviews, I think this is Wilco's best album to date. It isn't as important (or as immediate) as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot , but it's easily as good, if not better. The songs certainly linger longer, and it helps bring about the return of the ALBUM. It's my favorite album this year. And at first I didn't think M83's album couldn't Despite some negative reviews, I think this is Wilco's best album to date. It isn't as important (or as immediate) as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot , but it's easily as good, if not better. The songs certainly linger longer, and it helps bring about the return of the ALBUM. It's my favorite album this year. And at first I didn't think M83's album couldn't possibly be topped, but I find myself listening to this exponentially more... Wilco is emerging as one of the most important bands of this new century. Expand
  41. MattS
    Jun 21, 2004
    10
    Surpasses anything Tweedy & co. have done in the past. Just as good or better than YHF. A great rock album from one of the greatest American rock bands.
  42. JesseD
    Jun 23, 2004
    9
    While not as good as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, its still a masterful album by a masterful band.
  43. jimc
    Jun 23, 2004
    9
    a nine - nothing is perfect...the neil young influence is perfecto....i love it. the white noise endings could have been shortened considerably - they are not as amusing as the "yankee - hotel - foxtrot" intonations of the previous - i find them distracting. several cuts sound as if they could have been done by the fab four on sgt. pepper - hummingbird in particular. when i last saw john a nine - nothing is perfect...the neil young influence is perfecto....i love it. the white noise endings could have been shortened considerably - they are not as amusing as the "yankee - hotel - foxtrot" intonations of the previous - i find them distracting. several cuts sound as if they could have been done by the fab four on sgt. pepper - hummingbird in particular. when i last saw john stirratt he was sporting a buffalo springfield t-shirt - and that band's influence comes through as well. an excellent album. Expand
  44. TomR
    Jun 23, 2004
    10
    Inspiringly great. Like Charlie Kaufman's "Eternal Sunshine.." is to "Adaptation", "A Ghost is Born" is to "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". Maybe I'm a pessimist, but I didn't think either artist could create something as strong there previous efforts. Lucky for us they did. Enjoy!
  45. CharlesM
    Jun 23, 2004
    10
    I actually like this CD far more than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. While I found their last CD to hectic, I found "A Ghost Is Born" to be a brilliant mixture of whimsical elements and lyrical brilliantless. If you like mellow, sincere, and peaceful music...this is the perfect CD for you.
  46. BMorgan
    Jun 27, 2004
    7
    This album just lacks the energy of their previous efforts. The album moves on at a sleepy pace. My biggest complaint is that Jeff Tweedy's voice sounds tired and thin with very little emotion behind it. However, the good does out weigh the bad. The musicianship is top-notch.
  47. DavidC
    Jul 14, 2004
    9
    This album cannot be compared to YHF. My first reaction was that it was good but not great. But this album grows on you once you stop listening to it as a collection of good songs, as YHF is to me, and listen to it as a single entity. Now I can appreciate how great this album really is. YHF was a perfect 10 for me but in the end it is a collection of songs where this work stands as a This album cannot be compared to YHF. My first reaction was that it was good but not great. But this album grows on you once you stop listening to it as a collection of good songs, as YHF is to me, and listen to it as a single entity. Now I can appreciate how great this album really is. YHF was a perfect 10 for me but in the end it is a collection of songs where this work stands as a single great piece. Expand
  48. H.Ekadjaja
    Jul 16, 2004
    8
    Wilco continues their hitting streak with a stellar record. Like YHF, the "poppish" songs keep you hooked long enough to find the beauty in the more pensive pieces. The eccentricities of some of the tracks (mainly "Less Than You Think") have not resonated with me yet, but I would not be surprised if it "clicked" someday down the line.
  49. JohnT
    Aug 17, 2004
    10
    I totally agree with Joey M. while this album was a bit hard to grasp on the first few listens, luckily I was smart enough to not every dismiss a Wilco album! soafter I had played through it a couple times I started to recognize the beauty, and I think I would have to say that 3, 6, and 10 are my favorite songs on this masterpiece!
  50. Alec
    Nov 20, 2005
    10
    I have come to the conclusion that A Ghost Is Born is just as good if not better than YHF. Best of 2004, for sure.
  51. ApeRobot
    Nov 28, 2005
    10
    Possibly the most underrated album of all time. Better than YHF. Stop sleeping on this album.
  52. MikeDot
    Jan 24, 2005
    9
    Great album, but it requires more than one listen. What originally seems like drawn out nothingness is actually interesting and artistic. Very new, yet vintage at the same time.
  53. ChadS
    May 26, 2005
    10
    "I attack with love, pure bug beauty, curl my lips and crawl up to you, and your afternoon, and I've been puking," is the most inspired example of rock and roll poetry since Stephin Merritt wrote "On a ferris wheel looking out on Coney Island/under more stars than there are prostitutes in Thailand," from "Strange Powers". "Company in my Back" outshines anything Beck ever wrote, and "I attack with love, pure bug beauty, curl my lips and crawl up to you, and your afternoon, and I've been puking," is the most inspired example of rock and roll poetry since Stephin Merritt wrote "On a ferris wheel looking out on Coney Island/under more stars than there are prostitutes in Thailand," from "Strange Powers". "Company in my Back" outshines anything Beck ever wrote, and this is no slam on Beck. Jeff Tweedy is just better. "Wishful Thinking" is another gem. "Is any song worth singing if it doesn't help?" is a very good question. A track like "Spiders(Kidsmoke)" reminds me of how adventurous Prince once was on an album like "Sign of the Times". Listening to "Spiders" elicited the same what is this reaction I had when I first heard "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker". "A Ghost is Born" is the best rock album since Prefab Sprout's "Two Wheels Good". Expand
  54. StephenF
    Jul 31, 2005
    10
    This album is absolutely phenomenal. I'm internally divided over which of their last two albums is better; but one thing is for sure, this album is a great follow-up to YHF. I love how wilcos music has progressed from album to album, and a ghost is born continues that tradition. Music fans that prefer simple and predictable arrangements will not like this album, but for those of us This album is absolutely phenomenal. I'm internally divided over which of their last two albums is better; but one thing is for sure, this album is a great follow-up to YHF. I love how wilcos music has progressed from album to album, and a ghost is born continues that tradition. Music fans that prefer simple and predictable arrangements will not like this album, but for those of us that are always looking for new music that is pushing artistic boundaries this album is an absolute must. Finally the united states has an answer to radiohead. Expand
  55. matta
    Aug 26, 2005
    9
    Better than their first two releases and almost as good as their two masterpieces Summer Teeth and YHF, this is an amazing album, but one that definitely requires careful and repeated listenings to fully appreciate.
  56. Jun 4, 2011
    7
    It definitely doesn't hold a candle to YHF, there's some great moments but it lacks consistency.
  57. Aug 6, 2011
    9
    My second favorite Wilco record, right behind Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Jeff Tweedy never ceases to amaze me. Great **** record filled with classic songs. There is definitely that "noise" from YHF and it's wonderful. "Wishful Thinking".. goddamn.
  58. j30
    Sep 22, 2011
    8
    Decent follow up to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. There's moment of musical bliss, but than there moments of over-indulgent noise that detracts from it's high points.
  59. Oct 12, 2014
    9
    How is a ghost born? Someone dies, of course. This is the outlook of this album, taking terrible things that happen in life and making them resolve hopefully, all these thoughts swirling around a character on the border of madness.
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. This time, as well as simply delivering the goods, Wilco come bearing a basket of extras.
  2. Unlike the first three Wilco albums and even more than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost is Born requires careful listening.
  3. Ghost is not a lot of fun. Still, it's an accomplishment, because it's an angry album.