Kurt Vile has building his profile as the king of American indie rock for a few years now, and Wakin' On A Pretty Daze finds him in typically ambivalent voice, shrugging his way through eleven new songs. Where his last album - Smoke Ring for My Halo - focussed more on traditional pop song structures, this time out Kurt has allowed himself some space to sprawl with the guitar taking up position centre stage.
The album begins with the lengthy epic title track. Clocking in at just a sniff less than ten minutes long, the song explores a relaxed alternative rock sound, reminiscent of a much less wacky Pavement. Given its incredible length, you cannot help but feel that maybe it lasts a bit too long as the second impressive yet unnecessary guitar work out gets under way.
Although the focus very much remains on the guitar work rather than Vile's Dylan-esque vocal drawl, Wakin' On A Pretty Daze explores other genres outside of the 90s indie model. On Was All Talk some almost folk elements come into play under laid with processed drum beats, giving it an almost futuristic quality. One of the album's highlights is the progressively noisier outro to that particular track. Elsewhere, Girl Called Alex takes a more minor key, cinematic tone. These tracks show a willingness to explore and experiment and a daring streak which should be encouraged in more artists.
The album also features some more traditional, typical folk rock stylings with Never Run Away and Pure Pain. These songs feature mainly acoustic guitars and interesting chord progressions which sound almost like they could fall apart at any time.
Wakin' On A Pretty Daze closes with yet another epic, Goldtone, a euphoric ten and a half minute slog. This song meditates on a repetitive looping riff with layers of other instrumentation and vocals being added and taken away throughout. When the chorus finally breaks through it is a relief, but this is a truly gorgeous arrangement which finishes on a high with yet more brilliant guitar noodling
Wakin' On A Pretty Daze may not be Kurt Vile's strongest collection, but contained herein are a number of blissful musical moments. In places it feels like it is dragging a little, but on the whole, pushing the songs past radio friendly lengths allows Kurt Vile to showcase his skill as a truly talented yet tasteful guitar player. Whether he goes on to become the Bob Dylan of the Twitter generation remains to be seen, but Wakin' On A Pretty Daze is a welcome and worthy addition to Kurt Vile's catalogue.
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