Kurt Vile "Walkin on a Pretty Daze" (Metador Records, 2013)
By no means is Walkin On A Pretty Daze a lazy album, though it does have that feeling, that same feeling The Kinks tried to capture on “Sunny Afternoon,” yet couldn’t seem to sustain the lack of momentum. But Kurt’s managed to sustain that lack of momentum and more, where fluffy clouds and contagious yawns pass the day ... and he does it by engaging long soft songs that morph, cycle, re-cycle, and fold endlessly back onto themselves in true stoner fashion, without edges, almost without consciousness, existing for but a moment, then caught on a breeze, and are gone.
I sincerely doubt that these numbers simply rained down on Kurt Vile ... from his lyrics, they seem to have required a great deal of thought and consideration. Take the lines, “To be frank, I’m fried, and that’s fine,” though he follows that up later with “Not feelin’ it,” which literally means “not eatin’,” because if one’s not working and creating songs, then there’s no food on the table. But then he turns the tables and hits us with a Beat Poet’s attitude on “A Girl Called Alex,” where he obsesses over the imaginary life he’s created for his friends, endlessly thinking about them, and weaves one of the sweetest ballads with limited lyrics, that cuts right to the heart. And all of this makes the album more of a literary diary, where in a true Dylan-esq Blonde On Blonde dance step, he passes out clues through secretive imagery, allowing the listener to string together some meaningful understanding, and perhaps a new way of perceiving the world.
Mind you, Walkin On A Pretty Daze is not psychedelic in the fashion that it reaches out and grabs you, bestowing wondrous visions across the landscape of your mind ... it’s much more ordinary than that, focusing on being comfortable, being right here where you are, and letting all things ordinary and comfortable surround and sustain you. To be honest, the songs barely ebb from the speakers, they more ooze into being, and once out of the tube, are impossible to put back in.
And through all of this, if Kurt has any message at all, it’s that it’s good to do things, it’s great to achieve, yet in true Zen fashion, allow it all to seem effortless.
Review made by Jenell Kesler/2014
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