The Telescope presents: the top albums of 2013. We gathered best-of lists from staff and contributors, crunched some numbers and came up with twelve records that unanimously wowed us this year.
Kurt Vile’s music is a bit like Bukowski’s writing. His catalogue rambles thoughtfully, that is, it travels at a shambling pace, pausing, retracing steps, then runs away frantically, but is consistently contemplative. (Recall the snake slithering upon a spiral staircase, Vile fans).
Wakin On A Pretty Daze rambles too, and like Smoke Ring For My Halo, it is a complete, well-rounded album in the traditional sense. However, a listener just tuning into Pretty Daze without knowing Vile’s back catalogue might disagree because the album is diverse: the sonic distance between the electro-rocksteadyness of “Was All Talk” and the somber “Too Hard” is about as vast as that between “Freak Train” and “My Sympathy.”
And that’s why he gets away with dipping his fingers into so many pies. Vile has stretched his sound through enough forms in his previously released material that the seasoned listener gets it.
Despite Pretty Daze’s rambling nature, it’s been hugely well represented on best-of lists of unknown bloggers and big corporate media giants alike. And that feels crazy because Pretty Daze is a rock and roll album, and its average song clocks in at over five minutes.
One of the successes of Vile’s continued elaboration on his previous creative output is his total command over the song as an art form that isn’t necessarily supposed to be shouted along to, but repeated quietly.
“Pure Pain” might have been the only exception to this rule on Pretty Daze, but the break-out soliloquy that dominates what should be a chorus forces us to stop rocking and just think. That is of course, until we must rock once again.
Look to “Wedding Budz” from the It’s A Big World Out There (And I Am Scared) EP for a reinterpretation and amplification on everything that’s amazing about “Air Bud.” Actually, look to that EP for a bunch of amazingness, “(reprise reprise)” being the standout.
Obvious mentions for this album are “Wakin On A Pretty Day” (video at the top), “Never Run Away” and “Goldtone;” the first two you’ve surely already heard if you haven’t heard all of Pretty Daze yet. Take some time to relisten to “Goldtone” in 2014, preferably while walking on a pretty day.