by Chris Familton
Kurt Vile’s last LP Smoke Ring For My Halo made good all the promise he had showed in flashes on his earlier albums and so, with expectation hanging heavy in the air he has gone and taken that template, tightened its sound and expanded its possibilities on the superb 69 minute Wakin On A Pretty Daze.
Ten minute opener Wakin On A Pretty Day sets the scene with a slacker vibe built on Vile’s vocals that share similarities with Lou Reed and J Mascis’ lazy-drawl tendencies. He then doffs his cap to another obvious influence when KV Crimes opens with a riff straight from Neil Young’s songbook. Vile’s music inhabits a clean and precise sonic canvas yet it also possesses jam band qualities by rote of its wandering, drifting moods. Compositional restraint is one of the key elements to why this album works so well and it is a record that requires time and attention. Get in close and there is also a deceptive complexity and creativity buried in Vile’s songs. Take Was All Talk with its robotic Krautrock drums, electronic washes and faintly psychedelic dream pop leaning guitar sound. On the surface it is a typical Vile song but its rich structure and John Agnello’s production are captivating. Pure Pain is another that hits the spot with a chopped guitar/drum pattern that is both primitive and adventurous with flashes of Metallica, Led Zeppelin and Dinosaur Jr buried in its musical DNA. Vile sings with an eye to the past while trying to figure out the shape of his future in the face of physical and emotional separation but it is really the music that does the talking.
There is an effortless quality to this album that revels in being unhurried and is unconcerned with causing a commotion. It digs deep into hypnotic grooves, exploring the delicate and subtle possibilities of rhythm and melody with mesmerising results.
this review was first published in The Drum Media and online @ themusic.com.au