There is, unfortunately, a dearth of modern alt-pop, folk-rock singer-songwriters that are omnipresent in mainstream music today. The enchanting tunes of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and The Doobie Brothers will forever have a profound and lasting effect on music lovers, but nowadays, it’s much harder to perserve folk-rock music, with Euro-pop and EDM taking over. Only a few acts, such as Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Local Natives, and The Men, have cultivated rock music as both an aesthetic expression and have kept an indie/mainstream status. One particular rocker, Kurt Vile, contains all these qualities as well, but his artistic integrity, ingenious songwriting, and deft production is something to be reckoned with.
After creating the indie rock The War on Drugs in 2008 and simultaneously releasing two solo albums, Kurt Vile was still an unknown, unprecedented artist. That is, until 2011, when his third record, Smoke Ring for My Halo, achieved critical praise and significantly increased recognition. Much like some lo-fi bands, such as The Strokes, and acoustic soloists, such as Father John Misty, Kurt Vile has attained an intriguing, nonchalant sound that only few modern rockers have today. This year, Vile has continued to impress critics and fans with Walkin on a Pretty Daze, a hypnotic and ambitious album that blends psychedelic lo-fi with folk-rock, indie rock, and alt-pop effortlessly.
Compared to the laid-back Smoke Ring for My Halo, Vile’s fourth record is more dream-like, as well as much longer in length and more emotional in depth. The 9-minute and 30-second title track opener flows perfectly with Vile’s hazy tenor, trippy guitar licks, and refined drums. Daze continues with Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque rock ballads (“KV Crimes,” “Too Hard,” “Shame Chamber”), late 80s art pop jams (“Was All Talk,” “Snowflakes are Dancing”), and dramatic, acoustic-driven jives (“Girl Called Alex,” “Goldtone”). Most Daze tracks are retro and stylish, but the album also maintains a modern resonance, with dizzying tracks like “Never Run Away.” The best thing about Daze, and Vile in general, is that no matter the subject, Vile likes to keep it on the bright side. His lyrics and themes in both Halo and Daze focus on optimism, happiness, love, and peace. These may sound like the quintessential aspects of a flower-power, stoner-hippie, but it works well for Vile.
Suggested Tracks: “Walkin on a Pretty Day,” “KV Crimes,” “Girl Named Alex,” “Never Run Away,” “Shame Chamber”