Kurt Vile, ‘It’s a Big World Out There (And I Am Scared)’

“It’s a Big World Out There (And I Am Scared)” earns three out of five stars.



Mack Hayden , Writer

These days, a lot of music sounds remarkably similar. These last few years in particular have brought forth a predominately Brooklynite brand of ethereal dreampop put out by labels like Captured Tracks and Matador. Think Beach Fossils, Beach House or Wild Nothing. It all sounds different enough to be appreciated, but the proliferation of this sound weakens its value as a whole. Kurt Vile is one of the oldest progenitors of this sound, though, and his new EP, “It’s A Big World Out There (And I Am Scared),” is proof he remains one of the most original.


For one thing, Vile is more acoustic and rock focused than his compatriots. His quietly determined voice still dreams, albeit more realistically. His are the kind of subconscious fantasies which teeter right on the edge of things as they are, toeing the line between when you sleep and rise. His songs have gravity but still levitate an inch or two above the ground.

The EP swirls its acoustic guitars and echo pedals like satellite pictures of a hurricane. There aren’t any storms here, but you can feel them brewing on the horizon. “It’s A Big World Out There” is the eye of the storm, the quiet but aware moment between states of chaos. Vile knows how to shred on his guitar — we’re talking about the man who just got voted “Rocker of the Year” by GQ Magazine. He may be holding back on the soloing for the sake of atmosphere, but it’s a well-thoughtout decision. This EP and the album which preceded it, “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze,” are both testaments to the power of restraint. “Dark Side of the Moon” is as powerful as “Physical Graffiti,” even if it’s half as loud. The same goes for Vile’s whole oeuvre.


“Never Run Away” is a laid back opener to a laid back EP. The synthesizers here accentuate Vile’s usual guitar work with an even more peaceful set of sympathies. “Feel My Pain” is a mysterious and melancholy ballad trudged forward by light percussion and careful fingerpicking. “Snowflakes Extended” and “The Ghost of Freddie Roach” are the hardest Vile rocks here, but they’re still subdued, subdued, subdued.

If there’s one critique for this EP, it’s that it doesn’t really expand the Kurt Vile palate so much as paint yet another portrait from it. The similarities between his albums and EPs are undeniable, but the same goes for their dignified and sleepy-eyed power.


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