Album review: Kurt Vile, Wakin' on a Pretty Daze

By Graham Reid

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The improbably-named Philadelphian opens his beguiling fifth album with the nine minutes-plus sorta-title track that lazily reassures his love/the listener that it's okay, he's fried, living low and lazy, before a delightfully long skygaze-meets-Neil Young guitar part glistens off into the distance. As a statement of intent it's enormously impressive and - after his terrific if darker folk-rock album Smoke Ring For My Halo - signals that now he's connecting more closely to the Church (the woozy Girl Called Alex) and Neil Halstead/Mojave 3 as this slips between electro-acoustic rock and blissed-out ambience.

If that previous album was about the emotional problems of touring, this sounds like he's woken to a pretty day and had lift-off into transcendent psychedelic space where the drugs really do work. His askew lyrics, pop smarts (Pure Pain, the self-probing Shame Chamber and bristling Snowflakes Are Dancing could/should be played on radio), mercurial guitar, occasional forays back to folk-rock (Too Hard) and coherent tone make for an understated gem. And the 10 minute-plus closer Goldtone (Dylanesque in his allusive lyric) neatly delivers you back to the start for repeat plays. Album of the year votes open here.

Stars: 5/5
Verdict: Dreamy tripped-out ambient rock is the winner on the pretty day

- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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