He may be known for his less-than-polished production, but Kurt Vile knows his way around a pop song.
Vile grew up in a music-loving household just outside of Philadelphia. His dad, a big bluegrass buff, bought him his first instrument, a banjo. Other instruments weren’t far behind, and he started writing and home-recording his tunes. In true DIY, lo-fi fashion, Vile released his first home-brewed, recorded material on cassettes and CD-Rs. By 2005, he’d hooked up with Adam Granduciel, and together they formed the War on Drugs. The group began as a duo, and blossomed into a full-band. Vile’s tenure in the band was short-lived. In 2008 he left the band he helped to co-found. He didn’t rest long. Vile’s first solo disc Constant Hitmaker (re-issued on a different label in 2009) hit the stores around the same time as the War on Drugs’ 2008 full-length debut Wagonwheel Blues. His sophomore record Childish Prodigy followed in 2009, and 2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo garnered wide praise from critics and fans.
This week, Vile releases his latest full-length Wakin on a Pretty Daze. The first single off the record is a tune called “Never Run Away.” Vile doesn’t muss about an intro. He kicks in with laid-back vocals and earnest strumming. From there, the arrangement begins to swell, and the song swirls dreamily. There is some lo-fi fizz on top, but it sounds more like a warm, well-loved vinyl disc than some self-aware post-production wizardry. This is the sound of Vile laying down a song. It sounds natural, because that’s what Vile is.