Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kurt Vile Wakes Up To A Pretty Daze

Kurt Vile
Continuing on with the success of Smoke Ring For My Halo, Kurt Vile's increasingly warm and spacious vocals sound exactly like you might expect on his follow up. Wakin On A Pretty Daze is an unhurried and wistful album, with Vile waking up to something new on his mind.

The title track plays on for nearly ten minutes. It never feels tired. The Philly-based singer/songwriter somehow manages to capture everyone's attention and keep it. And then the song seeps inside and lines up everything else, with a new guitar on his knee and what Vile laughingly calls prog-pop sensible.

It's very clear the once fuzzed out and mumbly Vile is committing to articulate meanderings with longer songs that are even more reflective. Yes, sometime he trails off, leaving you to fill in the blanks but nobody will mind feeling lost at times. The play time for the album is 69 minutes.

Wakin On A Pretty Daze is surreal and served foggy. 

Following the title track, Vile kicks up KV Crimes with a classic guitar riff and a wink with lyrics that suggest he is ready to restart himself in a new direction. The entire fantasy of it all has an epic feel. There is something more to be found in the direction he wants to take the sound.

It's a new idea, just like the one Vile promised in his dozy opening. There are two ways to give Wakin On A Pretty Daze a listen. Matador Records released the making of the mural made for the cover art. But there is something else to be gleaned outside of the Philly countryside when you watch it live.

This isn't the only place where some people will wonder whether Vile ever had a plan for the album. The answer is yes, but given that almost all of it is confined to the briefest of moments — when we wake up with sleep in our eyes — it's understandable if not everyone can shuffle alongside him.

Too bad, because tracks like Was All Talk proves how effortlessly Vile puts it all together. He slips this kind of wryness into several of his songs, knowing that not everyone will see the album for what it is — a standalone bridge that is both taking you somewhere and existing as a destination.

The crooning daydream of A Girl Named Alex is just like that. It's a story seen in the flicker of morning, a snapshot of the past playing over and over again. The wildly accessible Never Run Away is much more direct, punching up the sentiment with a folk rock inspired pop sound that feels fresh despite having its roots in the 1970s. Pure Pain features finger-fluttering guitar work along with deeply introspective lyrics.

The rest of the album continues on in this fashion through the finish. Shame Chamber is perhaps the best of the tracks after Pure Pain. There are times on the lower sets that Vile starts to feel a bit directionless in the pursuit. Gold Tone, for example, might stretch too far with ten minutes of play time but without the purpose tucked inside the title track. But expect others to think it's expansive.

That is the way it goes with Vile at times. Expect the album to be both elevated and dismissed. Some people will claim Vile is somehow given a pass because he is so popular. The truth is that Vile is less popular than he is effective in finding an audience who isn't so interested in the top 40. He's out there because he isn't content in laying down sameness.

Wakin On A Pretty Daze By Kurt Vile Reflects 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

The album is another step up from Halo, proving how far the artist has come over the last two years in perfecting a direction. Although the album does falter in its second half, with the exception of Shame Chamber, Vile leaves those who love him with the unshakable feeling that he is already onto something else. And whatever that something might be, it will only get better.

Wakin On A Pretty Daze by Kurt Vile is available on Amazon. You can download tracks from iTunes or order the vinyl from Barnes & Noble. If you ever have a chance to see Vile live, take it. While it works best a lazy sit down affair, he is a master at creating a mood in person. You can find tour dates on his Facebook page.
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