Saturday, 21 December 2013

Best of 2013- Kurt Vile's "Wakin On A Pretty Daze"

Smoke Ring For My Halo was my favourite album of 2011. Since then Kurt Vile has steadily climbed up my “Favourite Artists” list and has gained attention of many, to the point of getting honoured by Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia with his own “Kurt Vile Day”. Therefore his fifth studio album was one that I was particularly looking forward to. 

Vile’s genre and style is a difficult one to fully define. He himself finds it challenging to name the key artists that have inspired him. Yet his work is never far from the term “psychedelic” , and is usually followed with nods to Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. In my own unsophisticated words Vile’s music is a mixture of hard-hitting accents and rhythmically enticing uses of finger-picked acoustic notes, i.e. folky, rocky, psychedelic bliss (?)

Wakin On A Pretty Daze is a mild departure from the pure yet low-fi tones of his previous works. What’s particularly apparent about this album is the looser composition of each song’s multiplicity of melodies. Calling it a succession of tuneful montages would be a simplistic and offensive analysis, as each individual track is composed of tight progressions, segments and tones. The 8-minute opening track “Wakin On A Pretty Daze” is a good example of Vile’s vivid pursuit for the “perfect song”. A series of heavy acoustic chords enhanced by his traditional finger-picking, solos and inventiveness that perfectly blend into a meditative yet invigorating experience. 

But Vile’s musical understanding and application has the capacity to let a simple set of chords resonate throughout an entire piece. “KV Crimes’” punchy guitar and vigorous solos harken back to his blue-collar, lo-fi, classic roots. Meanwhile “Was All Talk”s finger-picking arrangement with a striding drum-beat suits the newly enlisted synth undercurrents perfectly. 

Wakin On A Pretty Daze is one of my favourite albums of 2013. While at times it feels slightly over-produced and lyrically uninteresting, Vile’s consistent and persistent strive for intricately balanced and fulfilling songs is one that never seizes to impress. Mirroring the title, this is an album that has a meditative and mystic charm that lasts well after its solid runtime. 

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