Matt Kivel

Days of Being Wild

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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas

Songwriter Matt Kivel turned away from his work with indie poppers Princeton and garage glam group Gap Dream to focus on his slowly forming solo music, initiating the world to his patient, thoughtful sounds with 2013's Double Exposure. The sounds on that album were graceful and unassuming, smartly wrought acoustic music that felt incredibly reserved but still managed to be connective in its blend of soft guitar strums, understated melodies, and tastefully spare electronic touches. The 2014 follow-up, Days of Being Wild, rocks out just a little more than its predecessor, but in this case rocking out is an extremely relative distinction. Still softly spun and achingly considered, the outbursts of pop here come not in over the top key changes or virtuosic guitar solos, but when the drums are a little more prominent in the mix. That said, Days of Being Wild is anything but sleepy. Even in the tender fingerpicked album opener, "The First Time," Kivel's gentle vocals and room-filling guitar sounds are engaging to the point of encompassing, taking cues from past experts at this kind of welcoming folk songcraft like Karen Dalton, Bert Jansch, and Judee Sill. The more upbeat moments here are drifting midtempo rockers like "Underwater" and "Insignificance," tunes that tap into a more lo-fi reading of the '70s FM radio redux that artists like Kurt Vile and the War on Drugs have built their best work on. Things break out into full-on noise rock with "Open Road," a driving mesh of feedback and bright acoustic guitars, but the album is quickly tempered by softer tunes, acoustic interludes, and ambient walls of guitar texture like "Dolphins." Production assistance from Paul Oldham suits the gentler tracks like "End of Adventure." While Days of Being Wild strays somewhat from the ambient nature of Kivel's debut, its embrace of pop is a subtle one. The patient melodies and glowing sonic architecture of these lovingly crafted tunes manage to weave their way into the listener's subconscious, coming on with a deceptive lightness but leaving deep impressions.

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