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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Kurt Vile is looking to break out on ‘Wakin On A Pretty Daze’

    Kurt Vile is looking to break out on Wakin On A Pretty Daze

    Sometimes an album comes along that’s so fully realized you just can’t ignore it, and Kurt Vile’s new album Wakin On a Pretty Daze certainly smacks of crossover potential. It’s hard to imagine anyone hearing the gorgeous hum of opener “Wakin on a Pretty Day” and writing it off.

    Vile has never really concerned himself with reinventing the form, seemingly content to just smile and give his two cents from a smoke-filled garage of guitars.

    What sets Vile’s lazy worldview apart is that he says it better than most of his competition, like in the killer opening lines to “Wakin on a Pretty Day”: “Wakin’ in the dawn of day / I can think about what I want to say / Phone ringing off the shelf / I guess he wanted to kill himself.” In lesser hands, such a striking study in contrast might be whispered out over a few acoustic chords and a trumpet line.

    Instead, Vile uses these words as the jumping-off point for a nine-and-a-half minute saga of hazy reverb and an almost meditative repetition of the word “Yeah” that doesn’t go on for a second too long.

    Elsewhere Vile plays around with different musical structures that are less immediate, yet worthy of exploration nonetheless. “Was All Talk” opens with “Spirit in the sky / transparent to the eye” before veering between major and minor keys to great effect, all the while riding a beat that resembles Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.”

    On “Never Run Away,” Vile mumbles his way through a jaunty acoustic strummer that radiates warmth and sincerity like the idealistic early songs of Bruce Springsteen. When Vile stutters out “I know you’ll never run away … Amen,” it just sounds so damned assured, like the words of a man who’s figured out his life.

    Even the somber twelve-string epic “Pure Pain” sounds self-actualized, the jagged strums of the verse giving way to the rolling snare-and-tom work of a slowcore song without any bumps.
    Wakin On a Pretty Daze is the sound of Kurt Vile’s musical vision falling into place, a remarkable achievement considering his similarly successful work with ex-band The War on Drugs and on 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo.

    Given the ambling song lengths, the second half of the album drags just a tad more than the first, but with songs as good as “Too Hard,” the eight-minute running time is more than justified. It plays like Vile’s own tired prayer to goodness and his country, a vow to stop smoking so much weed and one of the most affirming, beautiful lines written yet this year: “I will promise to do my very best / to do my very best for you / and that won’t be too hard.”

    Wrapping it all up with the island escape fantasy of “Goldtone,” Vile ends what is undeniably one of the best indie records of 2013 on a quiet note.

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