Kurt Vile “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze”

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Where does one start with Kurt Vile? Philadelphia’s self-proclaimed “Constant Hitmaker” has quietly become one of America’s most consistent singer songwriters. Evolving from a fuzzed out, lo-fi maestro to the creative mastermind behind The War on Drugs, into a full-fledged finger picking studio musician, Kurt Vile has done almost everything- including the having a mural painted in his honor and becoming a Philadelphian landmark.

Wakin on a Pretty Daze is the follow up to Vile’s last effort, 2011’s Phenomenal Smoke Ring For my Halo. Perhaps the most underrated album of the year- from start to finish, Smoke Ring is nearly flawless. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Vile’s latest effort is that progression from Smoke Ring to Pretty Daze is not forced at all. But that is nothing new- he has been gradually changing since his debut album, Constant Hitmaker was released in 2008. The production sounds the same, the song writing is distinctive Vile, and everything that made Smoke Ring great is there. So what exactly is the difference? Ambition.

On Pretty Daze, Vile doesn’t hold back. The songs are long, honest, and beautiful. Vile manages to explore all of the sonic possibilities to the fullest extent. Shimmering guitar solos layer up over masterful finger picking on almost every track. No one on the circuit today is even close to Vile in terms of understanding how guitar based music should work and sound. The songs are exploratory and spacious without ever dragging on.

Stand outs on the album include the tracks “Girl Called Alex”, “Pure Pain”, “Snow Flakes are Dancing”, and the ten and a half minute epic closer, “Goldtone”. The lead of (and almost title track) “Wakin on a Pretty Day,” captures the feeling of walking around an empty place in the wee hours of the morning and watching the world wake up- a truly beautiful experience captured by an equally beautiful song.

The tack KV Crimes sounds like a victory lap, and well deserved one to say the least. On the cover of the album, Vile stands bashfully in front of the mural painted by Philly based graffiti artist ESPO. After the success of dark and smoky, Smoke Ring, Wakin on a Pretty Daze feels like a breath of crisp, fresh, morning air.

 

Kurt Vile
Wakin on a Pretty Daze
Matador
2013

9/10

by Jordan Bohannon.

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