Daniel Tures, Hollywood 09/01/2013
Philly stoner-rock guru’s best one yet. This took a while to grow on me — at first it seemed a little slow and uneventful — but now I hear it deep, grand and vibrant, like J. Mascis or Thurston Moore in a country-rock mood.
By now Kurt Vile has the corner on slacker folk-rock. Through his numerous solo releases and with The War on Drugs, he spins out classic rock riffs with strangely detached vocals and production heavy on reverb, rendering everything instantly familiar yet intriguingly just out of reach. Wakin on a Pretty Daze doesn’t stray from this formula, but Vile seems to mix the ingredients better each time. “Wakin on a Pretty Day” starts the album in a typically woozy fashion for vile, its gooey production and running time at first seeming to drag, then lodging in your head after about a third listen. Vile’s melodies have a way of not seeming to stick at first until they come humming out of your mouth without you realizing it. “KV Crimes” has a kind of “is he serious” three-chord rawk riff that Vile promptly undercuts with one of his most wonderfully disinterested vocal deliveries to date. It’s like J. Mascis or Thurston Moore covering Tom Petty in earnest. “Was All Talk” flirts with the sort of krautrock beats he especially is fond of in The War on Drugs, slowly intoxicating as it leaps along. Despite its great opening, Vile reserves choice moments for those who stick around through the sleepier songs. “Pure Pain” cuts up its acoustic riffs with engrossing stop-start dynamics that unexpectedly move into a fluttering middle section; in “Shame Chamber” (awesome title), Vile breaks up his ornate chord changes with impassioned, unexpected yelps; the also awesomely titled “Air Bud” sees Vile opening up a bit with an electronic beat behind him that suits his country jangle just fine and invites him to make his melodies more pop-oriented, his soloing more epic. Wakin on a Pretty Daze is a boon for Vile fans and should garner him plenty of new ones, displaying him firing on all cylinders — albeit at his own cool pace.