‘Wakin On A Pretty Daze’ sees the return of Kurt Vile, and after fourth album ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ had the American songwriter lavished with critical acclaim, this year’s offering comes burdened with a level of expectation quite unlike any of his albums before it. Not that you’d know it, as Vile continually layers waves of detachment over all he creates with a well-practiced nonchalance, a veritable lo-fi slacker’s handbook.
Opener ‘Wakin’ On A Pretty Day’ proves a suitably hazy introduction to the album, although it has the dubious honour of being one of few opening tracks to ever overstay their welcome. That said, with it clocking in at over 9 minutes that never seemed unlikely. Vile’s continual stance of honestly not caring at all are neatly surmised in the line “To be frank, I’m fried, but I don’t mind,” which only fades into a lot of acquiescent “Yeah”s. ‘KV Crimes’ stompy opening is surrendered to a lazy-ish Lou Reed drawl while third track ‘Was All Talk’ sees Vile offhandedly mentioning his newfound stalker, once again the singer managing to remain unnaturally laid back over the sun-soaked Americana of gently washing guitars and insistent percussion. A blurry indie rock quality grants ‘Never Run Away’ a bit more momentum that the songs surrounding it, with the feel good front hiding an underlying unease that The Dandy Warhols would be proud of. “Another day in the shame chamber, living life to the lowest power’ is perhaps the album’s most interesting lyrical highpoint as the songs meander comfortably to huge closer ‘Goldtone’. It’s here that Vile finally opens up, with a delicacy and vulnerability that affords the song a million times more charm than any of the previous tracks.
‘Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze’ is something akin to letting Kurt Vile take you on an impromptu road trip, finding yourself a passenger to the album, the scenery rushing by without definition is relaxing if not entirely fulfilling. It’s easy-going and charming, without ever having the focus or intensity to be insightful, definitely not a life-changing album, but potentially a life-affirming one. It’s not an album that is desperately grasping for the listener’s engagement but nevertheless has just enough changes of pace and instrumentation to reward whoever lets Vile’s ambling rock songs wash over them. In this respect it is perfectly encapsulating its title, an album you wake up on, confused and optimistic, that comes to life with you. Still its meandering ways may endear or annoy in equal measure, but it’s hard to argue that there is a consistency or pure quality to see this album rank alongside its illustrious predecessor.
Kurt Vile - (watch my moves)
Unquestionably one of Kurt’s easier-going records.
His new album, ‘(watch my moves)’, is out next month.
It’s released in April.
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