There are certain pieces of music and art that seem to come into their own when experienced at night. Breaking Bad for one always seems a creepier and more visceral show if you watch it when the sun comes down. The same could be said for Kurt Vile, a Philadelphia songwriter whose hallucinatory take on rock and roll seems to pulse and twitch in and out of the listeners consciousness like a dark narcotic bringing in the half light.
Like a character from a Denis Johnson novel, Vile might look a lonely dreamer stuck on the edges of towns at a bus stop, but his building momentum seems set to break into the mainstream. His recent album 'Walking on a Pretty Daze' topped many of last years best album lists, and has cemented him as the greatest independent songwriter since Elliot Smith, and certainly in the past few years.
For Vile this has been a steady rise through rise through the rock barricades. Prolific, gifted, his songs are about hope, love, redemption, a hard working ethic that brings to mind the mighty Alex Chilton. There are many influences on a Kurt Vile record in fact, the melody of the Byrds, the closed fist of early Neil Young, the white noise of Lou Reed but he fractures them brilliantly into something loose and majestic. The lost art of falling apart. Listening to one of his records seems an excercise not in papering over the studio joins, but in embracing them. It's an ethic that goes back to the blues and beyond, but it's no history lesson. It's more about celebrating the idea that the man on stage or on record is no different to the person in the audience or holding the vinyl.
Mistakes and all. A duality. Like some sort of line drawing.
Whilst watching Kurt Vile live is never going to be that incendiary experience, a blowtorch in bondage, where the the connection to the crowd is instant (perhaps his only flaw), neither is it, as some critics have suggested, a self indulgent exercise in musicianship either. His songs are effortless, pretty, beatific in a way that only the very big boys can pull off. On 'Walking on a Pretty Daze' he even partly drops his past psychedelic jams into something simpler, stripped of histrionics. Songs such as 'never run away' and 'girl called Alex' are perfect pop songs in a cynical age. Heartfelt. The beating heart of pop is always at the mine face of rock music anyway. He perhaps understands more than any other songwriter around today that the sheer thrill of tuning in a radio late at night and hearing it's melodic form soothing out can never ever really be beaten......he might just be what the world has been waiting for.