Kurt Vile – it’s a big world out there (and i am scared)

Rather than this being an afterthought, it’s a natural coda.

Label: Matador

Rating:

Following the release of their fifth studio album, ‘Wakin On A Pretty Daze’, Kurt Vile and the Violators are releasing an EP to accompany its expanded double-disc version. Recorded in the same sessions, ‘it’s a big world out there (and i am scared)’ complements and supports the main album – alternative versions of ‘Wakin…’ tracks sit alongside new material.
 
It seems an extravagant exercise, putting out your own album again in the same year it was released, especially when the seven ‘new’ tracks are in part made up of re-imaginings of the original ones. But rather than this being an afterthought, it’s a natural coda. Perhaps Vile had unfinished business with the record, feeling that a fresh mix, or a few tweaks, could offer certain tracks a new lease of life. ‘Wedding Budz’, for example, is a rebirth of ‘Wakin…’’s ‘Air Bud’, and ‘Snowflakes Extended’ a continuation of ‘Snowflakes Are Dancing’.
 
What is particularly impressive about the EP is its diversity, without diversion. Whist never sounding unlike himself, he tracks genres as varied as 60s folk, 90s Britpop and synth-infused indie rock. None of it sounds disjointed, but each song offers something truly unique from the last – no mean feat when you consider his signature vocal style. Incidentally, those glorious, growly bass notes of his have never sounded so good.
 
The highlight here has to be ‘Feel My Pain’, a new song which most aptly demonstrates Vile’s musical dexterity. It’s very beautiful: a lilting, acoustic number with a hypnotic rhythm that prevents it lagging. A strong sense of melody holds the entire song up, yet Vile somehow manages to keep the lyrics conversational throughout - it’s a stream of consciousness made musical. His lyrics in general don’t stop you on the spot, but they are honest and simple. ‘Snowflakes Extended’ contains the EP’s title: ‘It’s a big world out there, and I am scared / ‘Cause I am human in mass confusion’.
 
And really, who could turn down more Kurt Vile? If anyone can make it all look easy, it’s him. Beneath the relaxed, foot-tapping, nonchalant exterior is an excellent musician and wordsmith, whose casual demeanour only makes his creative output more thrilling. There is something deeply satisfying about the music he makes – it defies explanation, but it gives you that feeling that makes you scrunch up your face, shake your head about and nod a lot. I’m sure you know the feeling. If you don’t, listen to this EP. Listen to the whole of the ‘Deluxe Daze’ album extension. Actually, just listen to anything by Kurt Vile.