Review: Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze
Published on April 13th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Now on his fifth solo album, the former The War on Drugs man still resolutely refuses to be rushed. What it lacks in correct punctuation, Wakin on a Pretty Daze makes up for with wry, sublimely laid-back jangle pop, but some of the running times border on the absurd.
Opener and pseudo-title-track “Walking on a Pretty Day” is a perfect example: it luxuriates in major 7th chords and Vile’s untroubled melodic sensibility, all in all reminding of Ducktails’ similarly splendourous The Flower Lane album from earlier this year. However, for all that it is dreamy, meandering and agreeably natural-sounding – even to the extent that it’s easy to forgive Vile for just going “yeah yeah yeah” over a whole portion of the song – does it really need to go on for nine and a half minutes?
Vile goes from sounding like a blissed-out Pavement there to a mellowed-out early Stone Roses on “Was All Talk”, which he grants a strange, popping beat to further the interest levels, but the line “Making music is easy / Watch me” is all too telling: this one lasts for almost eight minutes, demanding far too much compliance from the listener without rewarding it with unexpected tangents or even much in the way of dynamics, save for suddenly letting fly with some groaning distortion at the end.
“A Girl Called Alex” has a lovely swagger about it, “Pure Pain” flows oddly punctuated psychedelia into a floaty, pedal-steel-assisted shuffle, while the bittersweet “Shame Chamber” gradually intensifies around the catalyst provided by Vile’s incongruously energised “WOO!”s. For Rocksucker’s money, though, it’s the airborne “Air Bud” that comes closest to rivalling “Walking on a Pretty Day” as the highlight of the set; its fizzy synth and wibbly guitar are nice touches, and the subtly climactic dynamic justifies its running time of six and a half minutes.
The acoustic guitar and glockenspiel of final track “Goldtone” do good by its title, further joys attendant in lyrics like “In the night when all hibernate / I stay awake searching the deep, dark depths of my soul”, but it throws in another extended round of “yeah yeah”-ing and winds up clocking in at ten and a half minutes.
We’ve got to mention this song’s opening line of “Sometimes when I get in my zone / You might think I’m stoned / But I never, as they say, touch the stuff”, for it evidences a self-awareness that’s far more closely aligned to self-confidence than self-doubt. This assuredness sure makes for a pretty daze, it’s just that the effects could do with wearing off a bit more quickly.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Wakin on a Pretty Daze is out now on Matador. For more information, please click here to visit the official Kurt Vile website.