Kurt Vile: Wakin on a Pretty Daze (Matador) 

It may seem crazy to compare Kurt Vile's newest album to Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience, but they're more alike than you think.

Like Timberlake on his latest, Vile is in full-blown epic mode on Wakin on a Pretty Daze, turning in two 10-minute songs (the title track and closing song) and five more that break the five-minute mark. Both records are referential and nostalgic; Wakin finds Vile steeped in 1960s psychedelia, 1970s soft rock and 1990s guitar-pop.

But while 20/20 is fractured and experimental, Wakin is all of a piece. There's a bit of the idiot savant to Vile, as if he's taken too much acid over too many years. He's got a brain-fried flower child's proclivity for finding the profound in the absurdly mundane; one of the songs is called "Snowflakes Are Dancing."

But it's exactly that lack of self-consciousness that makes Wakin so charming. It's a record full of spaciousness, that insists upon long stretches of musing—the rambling psych-dance of "Was All Talk," the Dylanesque "Too Hard"—rather than staccato bursts of insight. Though lacking the tightness and precision of 2011's masterful Smoke Ring for My Halo, Wakin continues Vile's hot streak of the last few years.

Of the record, Vile said, "It's just about my life, without thinking too much about it." Compare that to his boasts in 2009 about Childish Prodigy being his "masterpiece," and you start to get the idea that the more Vile goes inward, the more he expands.

More by Sean Bottai


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