The title says it all on the latest excursion from Kurt Vile. Two years on from the up-until-that-point career high of ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’, Vile isn’t breaking into any new sonic territories. ‘Wakin On A Pretty Daze’ is teeming with woozy guitar work, heavy on inventive noodling and summery strumming, and those mumbled, half-heard vocals. When Vile sardonically sings “Makin’ music is easy/Watch me” it is a testament to the effortless flow of this album that he makes it seem just so.
These songs are deceptively layered, each listen revealing another glimpse of a guitar that evaded previous attempts to pin it down. Opener Wakin On A Pretty Day unfolds over a languid, hazy nine minutes, tripping out on its lengthy instrumental passage. ‘This is the way it’s gonna be’, seems to be the message to the listener, and so things progress unhurriedly over the album’s eleven tracks. KV Crimes sees Vile channelling Seventies rock – Free, Bowie, Tom Petty – into an already familiar yet idiosyncratic number.
Girl Called Alex is almost muffled, faux-folk, with Vile displaying a knack for evoking a feeling of nostalgia – “I think about them all the time” – even if the subject matter doesn’t warrant it. The simple, catchy lyrical hook of Never Run Away is another effective foot-tapper before the transformation of Pure Rain from lo-fi into an unexpectedly sweet and downbeat instrumental suite. Too Hard is Vile’s ruminations on fatherhood, brutally honest, a litany of promises and personal observations before delivering the strangely touching “Life is like a ball of beauty that makes you want to just cry/ Then you die.”
A nice vibrating guitar twang peppers Air Bud as it kind of meanders aimlessly through its journey towards Goldtone, the ten minute closer that seems to tip its hat to Shuggie Otis. At seventy dreamy minutes ‘Wakin On A Pretty Daze’ feels like Vile’s most assured record to date (“There was a time in my life when they thought I was all talk” ), even if at first glance as it can come across as one long interchangeable song cycle. The tempo rarely sways too dramatically in either direction from the opening track, ultimately a welcome thing in such an immersive downpour of guitar notes; all that’s left is to put aside the time to let them wash over you.