Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

 

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Kurt Vile has graced us with his minimalistic take on psychedelic roots rock for almost a decade. He was the co-founder of The War On Drugs before he set out to focus on his solo career. Vile released a couple of (at times) brilliant but uneven albums before things suddenly started to take off with 2011’s Smoke Ring Of My Halo. He polished off his “lo-fi” approach, removing all unnecessary sound fuzz and psychedelic haze that might have distracted the attention. Left was a raw, scaled down roots rock, echoing Petty’s or Reed’s legacy.

Wakin On A Pretty Daze’s  album opener, “Wakin’ On a Pretty Day” pretty much sums up all Vile’s strengths during the course of its ten-minutes. It’s an unclouded meditative piece of sublime folk-rock, effortlessly executed with great attention to details. Even if he seldom changes chords, the song never becomes tiring, and the same goes for the rest of the album. The equally long album closer, “Goldtone” brings out the best in Kurt Vile, beautifully orchestrated with dreamy organs, slide guitars and every gorgeous sound you’ll usually find in his repertoire. The wondrous harmonies of the last two minute are possibly the most astounding of his career.

In between these two epic’s, you’ll find 9 idiosyncratic songs of various lengths that never loses focus or direction, created in warm and convivial manner. “KV Crimes” is the most classic rock on the record, with bluesy-riffs that largely outshines 2011’s “Puppet To The Man”, while “Snowflakes Are Dancing” is quite possibly the most attention-grabbing and immediate track, probably the one that most closely resembles his work on Smoke. The fact that Vile’s chose to incorporate beautiful sweeping synthesizers is a much welcomed direction, most noticeable on “Was All Talk”. The synths tie perfectly with the finger-picked guitars and electronic drums, creating the finest moment on the record.

“Never Run Away” appears in a slightly different version on the album than the one we previously featured. Gone are the beautiful synthesizers, and the bluesy electric guitar riffs are toned down to spacious acoustics. It almost resembles the psychedelic ambience of “Beach On The Moon”, taken from God Is Saying This To You, and it’s hard not to be a bit disappointed at first, but in the context of the album, it fits the mood perfectly.

Taken as a whole, Wakin On A Prerry Daze feels less instantly rewarding compared to Smoke, but after required multiple listens, a more colorful and airy album start to reveal itself. It’s a revitalized work of a man that kept on evolving and creating new ways of presenting his laid-back approach to roots-rock. He’s given birth to a life-affirming, joyous album that fittingly encapsulates its title, but more importantly it’s the finest work of his career.

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