Kurt Vile is Wakin on a Pretty Daze

kurtI have just discovered that Kurt Vile, founding member of stoner-rock outfit The War on Drugs and also a rather successful solo singer/songwriter, is actually something of a family man. This caused disarray in my tiny brain about all the illusions of the rock and roll lifestyle (mostly based on Almost Famous). The man that creates the kind of droney, airy acoustic guitar-laden morose tracks that are the perfect accompaniment for smoking a fatty in the sun, wipes bums and has dealt with that whole pregnancy thing? Weird. Anyhoo, let’s just keep within those illusions and talk about his new record, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, that follows from the seminal Smoke Ring For My Halo, Vile’s 2011 solo release.

The album opens with Airbud. I really dig the Beck-esque thing he does with the feedback on the keyboard chords to lead the track in, then totally disbands with that and continues into his trademark sunshiney drawl over multiple guitars and minimal percussion. I also like that most of his tracks provide me with a mental image of a jam session. I see lots of long curly hair and guitars splayed about.

Gold Tone is a ten-minute wonder, it drifts in a semi-concious way through this dreamy narrative, with Vile’s vocals wound around long guitar sections. There is a lot of repetition musically in this song, the structure is interesting to try and comprehend. Much like a dream, its a bit all over the place, with interruptions of a lady’s voice, and chorus lines, focus and emphasis on the title lyric.

This adrift, random sprawl of a song is followed with KV Crimes, and we are awake again, sobering up out of that hazey ten minutes prior with a walking beat. It does still feel a little lazy though and gets a little boring midway through. One of the strongest points on the album though is Never Run Away; Vile’s vocals are diverse and the ending chorus-line sticks in my head. This album is definitely middle-heavy with the most noteworthy material.

The best tracks don’t solely focus on Vile’s vocals. I’m talking about the ones that are slow and long, with a selection of acoustic guitars to back up Vile’s (sometimes) lackluster musical presence. I do however appreciate the layered sounds (including one of my favourite instruments, the peddle steel), like in Too Hard, or the passion-filled yelps at the end of Shame Chamber.

Words by Carol Bowditch.