Wakin on a Pretty Daze
On his 2011 breakthrough, Smoke Ring for My Halo, Kurt Vile pawned off his lo-fi, bedroom rock for a more polished, hi-fi sound. His washy guitars and slurred vocals came through clearer than ever before, an almost contradictory concept that paid off by attracting a wider, more mainstream audience. He continues to explore the studio on Wakin, but this time around, his songwriting gets the listener more involved. The opening track rolls us out of bed, clothes us and reminds us not to rush into the day. The core of the album, a casual collection of deeply reflective songs, sends us on our way, keeping us mindful of our loved ones (KV has a family now) and what really matters when the day is done. Then, in the quiet of the evening, we pour our aches and pains into finding that 'golden' guitar tone, one that encompasses this whole crazy cycle called 'life'.
Wakin is Vile's most linear, yet sprawling release to date. Songs drift about for 6-10 minutes, remaining cool, calm and sufficiently stoned throughout. No specific instrument or vocal melody stands out in the arrangements, yet the songs still resonate with the listener through their bold repetition. Vile seems more comfortable on this cut too, utilizing more tracks to layer his guitars and experiment with synthesizers. Not to mention the clever album art, which still shines proudly on a wall just off a popular Philadelphia train line.
Collectively, Vile's latest effort is beyond impressive. Though you won't find him breaking out of his shell too much, Vile explores new sonic territory that fans old and new can get into. Best of all? Wakin is timeless. Go ahead, listen to it so much you get tired of it; these songs will still sound fresh twenty years from now.
Written by Alex Simpson, Radio K volunteer.