Kurt Vile: "Wakin on a Pretty Day"

from Wakin on a Pretty Daze (Matador; 2013)

By Maura McAndrew | 13 February 2013

Under rock ’n’ roll canon law, Kurt Vile must be the patron saint of sleep. His sound alone is so laid back as to feel in constant repose, with those muttered words and the muffled brightness of those guitars, and lyrically, sleep or adjacent behaviors (laziness, sitting, dreaming) seem to be the basis of the entire Vile oeuvre. Even the cover of his 2011 EP So Outta Reach featured a series of photos of Vile asleep at a party, a behavior he has admitted to engaging in frequently. So it’s no surprise, then, that his new record, due in April, is entitled Wakin on a Pretty Daze, combining not one but two allusions to Vile’s chosen vice: he may be awake, finally, but he’s also totally out of it.

The resulting first single, “Wakin on a Pretty Day,” is a very exciting teaser for what’s hopefully to come: it’s classic, dreamy Vile, but with the focus that made Smoke Ring for my Halo my favorite album of 2011. At over nine minutes, it’s ridiculously sprawling, but doesn’t feel like it at all. This is likely a result of the track’s masterful pacing—each verse is given just enough room to breathe, and the guitar solo swoops gracefully outward to the song’s conclusion without attempting to manufacture any drama.

“Wakin” starts off pretty bouncy, but Vile wastes no time getting to the pathos: “Wakin’ at the dawn of day / I’ve gotta think about what I wanna say / Phone ringing off the shelf / I guess he wanted to kill himself.” Despite that opening, the song never veers off into darkness but rather maintains a smooth, chiming, partly cloudy feeling throughout. “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day” flaunts Vile’s ability to create something languid and loose without letting it fall apart. But, of course, this balance comes easy to him, or he wants us to think it does. Stoned-and-shrugging, Vile says as much in another spot-on line: “To be frank / I’m fried / But I / don’t mind.”

► “Wakin on a Pretty Day”