I don’t know who Kurt Vile is. I don’t know how I heard his name. I don’t know why I thought I should listen to him. What I do know is, I found his name scribbled down in my own hand writing on a scrap of paper. So at some stage, I must have thought he was someone I needed to listen to. And with that unhinged enthusiasm, it’s time to get balls’ deep in Kurt Vile’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze,
Opening with gentle, flowing acoustic guitars, light drums and light as a feather bass (if bass can ever be light as a feather), the title track makes me think I had a good reason for scribbling Vile’s name on that scrap of paper whenever I did it. And for a simple, straight forward song with not very many moving parts, it effortlessly fills its almost 10 minute running time.
With distorted guitars, a little more drive to the rhythm section and even some riffing, KVB Crimes offers a hint of classic rock that the preceding song never hinted at for a second. And Vile delivers the classic rock vibe without having to alter his laid back vocal style at all. Then it’s a combo of the first two songs, with an added trippy sheen, for Was All Talk.
A folksy, meets Gaelic, meets Cat Stevens element gets thrown in with a more lo-fi production sound and a guitar that flirts with mandolin sounds on Pure Pain. It’s cool that Wakin on a Pretty Daze can find these new avenues, while keeping consistent with its own agenda, even as it enters its second half. Then it’s time for some post-Beatles George Harrison-esque gear with Shame Chamber.
Kurt Vile and Wakin on a Pretty Daze are all over the shop, and totally apiece all at once. And that comes down to his voice. While the musical styles and energies fluctuate from track to track, Vile’s oxymoronic compellingly slacker delivery ties everything together as a really satisfying whole. And at over an hour with almost half the track listing coming in at over five minutes each, staying compelling is a great achievement.