Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty DazeCultureMusicAlbum reviews
Kurt Vile is the purest type of rock songwriter. His songs feel somehow inevitable, both redefining and fulfilling the scene’s need for original singer/songwriters. The songs mould themselves to the listener, as does Vile himself. To some his music is a revival of folk-rock, to others he’s simply in keeping with an ongoing singer/songwriter tradition – in any case he’s the most natural talent to emerge from the American underground in quite some time, with many acknowledging him as a generational milestone voice: this era’s Springsteen, J Mascis or Lou Reed.
2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo saw Vile move from the lo-fi sound of his Matador debut, Childish Prodigy, to something of a more classically made, professionally recorded effort. The resultant ten tracks of urban folk revealed Vile’s increasing penchant for dense songwriting, hidden behind the haze of a faux-homemade aesthetic to be found elsewhere in American hipster rock with the likes of Ducktails. Wakin on a Pretty Daze sees Vile shifting again, losing none of his depth and maturity, but delving deeper still into the laidback jam of his subtly unique sound.
From the get-go of the anthemic, long haul opener Wakin on a Pretty Day, it’s simple to describe this as Vile’s “Crazy Horse” album. The nine-and-a-half-minute track majestically drifts along at a lax pace, lapping in waves around understated instrumental passages and solos like a subdued take on Neil Young’s lengthy Ramada Inn from his latest Crazy Horse excursion. The difference between Vile and Young’s jam however, is that this departure feels more natural and less like an excursion. Where Young & Crazy Horse’s drawn-out folk jams can become laboured and needlessly showy, Vile engineers them to craft an atmosphere that permeates the whole record – one of effortlessness.
Aesthetically, Vile’s back catalogue is all there on this album. Was All Talk is a disjointed hipster hit in the Childish Prodigy vein, while the magnificent Too Hard takes Halo’s shimmering psych-folk to the nth degree over eight wistful minutes. The album stands as a testament to what can still be done with little more than a rock band and a great song, demonstrating the sheer breadth and power of Vile’s palette. Not quite a masterpiece, but pretty damn close, one expects that the best is still to come from Kurt Vile.
Wakin on a Pretty Daze was released on 9th April. For further information about Kurt Vile and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Never Run Away with an intro from Kurt Vile here: