Stepping aside from The War On Drugs (his band, not the actual war on drugs! I mean we can only expect so much of our contemporary indie pin ups!) Kurt Vile has showered April with his fifth solo album Wakin On A Pretty Daze. After picking up steam alongside a bunch of critical accolades in 2011 for his last LP Smoke Ring For My Halo. The head Violater has followed up his most succesful solo effort with quite possibly his most ambitious one.
Opening up the record with a nine-and-a-half minute prog pop number that radiates lo-fi psychedelica through little more than vibrato guitar tones and a hushed vocal performance. “Wakin On A Pretty Day” proves to be a gutsy opening gambit to say the least, but like many of the chances that Vile takes on this record (whether it be prolonged running times or new instrumentation), the gamble is definitely worth the risk. Some people might find the often overly casual approach to this record too much of a slow burn, but for me, if anything, the hazy, sprawling nature of Wakin allows Vile to layer his songs, stretch out the sounds, and really fine-tune the textures that heavily contribute to the album’s deep, summery, blissed-out vibe.
The beauty of this record is that you can find yourself lost for days in the way it weaves its components. Vile has really mastered his ability to produce swirling melodies and stack layers of dreamy psychedelia. But if you listen with a more conscious ear, you can hear just how many intricate and intimate details make up his tapestry of lo-fi loveliness. This isn’t a new trick that Vile has picked up, but one he’s been working on for a number of years, and on this record you can hear it at its most potent. The longer songs that populate the record show off this particular skill set the best. The ebb and flow emobodied by tracks like “Goldtone,” “Air Bud” and “Too Hard” show how Vile is really starting to advance and evolve his song crafting, not just in terms of instrumentation and stylistic tendencies, but in the actual composition of his work as well.
Wakin On A Pretty Daze is not only the perfect album for lingering sunsets and gorgeous summer settings, it also feels like a genuine and heartfelt step forward for the man behind it. As a musician who has worked hard to get the attention and recognition he’s started to gather, its great to see he’s not content to sit still. There’s a hunger to his work that is not only humbling to hear but pretty inspirational, too.