ALBUM REVIEW: Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

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ARTIST Kurt Vile

ALBUM Wakin On A Pretty Daze

LABEL Matador Records

RELEASE DATE (U.S.) 9.4.2013

9.6 | 10

Wakin On A Pretty Daze signals remarkable growth for an already well-established major player in the indie scene. With this album Kurt Vile should go from the guy people kind-of-sort-of know to the guy everyone wants to know. The album starts off with the excellent “Wakin On A Pretty Day,” and somehow only gets better from there. “KV Crimes” bursts in with some exquisite guitar work and one of many choruses on the album that will stick with you for days. “I think I’m ready to claim what’s mine, rightfully,” he commands, and he certainly deserves it after this effort. He is in full on self-embrace mode on “Was All Talk,” sounding like a shutdown NFL cornerback as he sings, “Playing music is easy, watch me!” And concluding that sentiment by tauntingly stating, “There was a time in my life when they thought I was all talk.”

“Girl Called Alex” chugs along with a somewhat sinister guitar riff before Vile lets loose around the 2:30 mark, eventually landing back into the groove that hooked the listener in from the get-go. “I think about them all the time,” he recites in his just-stepped-out-of-a-hotbox delivery, with his delivery implying he appreciates the distance that just “thinking” about people brings. I would say “Never Run Away” is the most pop song on the album, but that is only in terms of length. While it features a wonderful melody, it turns out Vile was ripe with inspiration as he recorded his second full-length solo record.

“Pure Pain” and “Shame Chamber” highlight the second half, with “Pain” being the lone ballad among the lot, while “Chamber” is the most playful he sounds here, as he continuously shouts “Whoo!” near song’s end over arguably his most nuanced guitar solo on the album. The only stumble here is “Snowflakes Are Dancing,” which doesn’t resonate with as much affect as the other songs here.

The 1-2 punch of “Air Bud” and “Goldtone” close out the set in fine fashion, with the former being one of the more upbeat numbers found in this collection and the latter the closest Vile has ever gotten to sounding like Pavement. His delivery is equally playful and powerful, recalling the work of that group’s Stephen Malkmus. The 10-minute closer is also one of the best songs in this songwriter’s now-illustrious repertoire, and serves as a victory lap for Vile and his cohorts Jesse Trbovich and Rob Laakso, both instrumental as members of his backing band The Violators in making these creations once only in mind become something of a reality.

Time and time again, Vile stumbles upon the perfect chords and rides them for all their worth. He stays true to the title of the album at all times; at no time is the pace faster than a stroll and my eyes burn just imaging the bong smoke waiting to be waded through in this alternate aural reality. There might not be another album this year quite as beautiful as this one. But for 69 short minutes, Daze is a hypnotic piece of art, never once wearing out it’s welcome.

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