Matt Kivel
Days of Being Wild


3.0
good

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
July 8th, 2014 | 17 replies


Release Date: 07/08/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A stimulating piece of acoustic songwriting that flourishes more than it falters.

Matt Kivel is a quietly confident songwriter. His music is minimal by nature, driven by acoustic finger plucking that is more artful than it is masterful. In other words, he’s not out to prove that he is the most complex musician in the world, but he pours plenty of emotion into his work, which compensates for what can easily be perceived as a lack of variety. Striving for affect over ambition has its pros and cons, but it is this approach that accentuated the strengths of his debut Double Exposure - and has led to an identically stimulating counterpart here. Days of Being Wild once again employs a “less is more” philosophy, and the result is a sophomore release that is not at all immediate but might reward faithful listeners in the long run.

Kivel’s second album features a blend of lush acoustic guitars and simple percussive rhythms, occasionally washed over with an electronic glean. It’s a simple formula that has been executed by a number of different indie singer/songwriters, but the most successful ones have been able to stamp their music with some kind of defining style. Kivel does that here. A comparison that used to hover around his debut – and one that I find to be quite accurate – is Nick Drake. The way that he mumbles and blurs his lyrics without any apparent concern, and cleverly wraps elaborate metaphors around his words, is both comparable and admirable. Of course, Kivel only mirrors him in terms of style, not in terms of substance – which is where Days of Being Wild inevitably discovers its glass ceiling.

So Matt Kivel might not be the next Nick Drake, fine. Still, he offers up some brilliant moments that should not be overlooked. Tracks like ‘Blonde Boy’, whose highlight is a soothing whistled verse, is one of those songs that is passively (and perhaps unknowingly) poignant. It creeps up on you with lazily strummed chords and a repetitive, desolate chorus of “I wonder where you are” before leading into the haunting, whistled serenade. It’s one of those songs that I imagine being played in a dimly lit room, while laying on the floor sifting through old photographs. It conjures a palpable sense of isolation, which is a motif that surfaces frequently within both of Matt Kivel’s first two records. The way in which ‘Little Girls’ and ‘Open Road’ interact is another clear highlight, shifting from a delicate acoustic arrangement to a far more dynamic and vibrant atmosphere. Interestingly, Kivel chooses to maintain a similar drum beat throughout both tracks, suggesting a possible relationship between them whilst simultaneously crafting one of his best transitions. Kivel toys with various tempo changes throughout Days of Being Wild, but this is one of those instances in which the track-ordering just fell into perfect place, resulting in a seamless feeling for listeners.

Days of Being Wild is such a personal album that each track’s success or failure, to a large extent, is tied to the listener’s interpretation of the atmosphere and the lyrics. Obviously this is true in some way for any album – as all music is subjective – but Kivel’s minimal acoustic approach maximizes the shades of gray. On songs like ‘Blonde Boy’ (which features a very unique and recognizable trait), this is a wonderful thing because it allows one’s personal experiences to shape the song’s meaning. Unfortunately, so much of Days of Being Wild is stripped almost entirely bare – often consisting of little more than a chord and a vocal melody. If the listener can’t relate to the lyrics – and there isn’t a distinguishing characteristic present in the song – then there is very little replay value. This presents an additional problem in itself because Kivel’s words aren’t easily decipherable while he is singing. Take a song like ‘The First Time’ (to name one of several samey-sounding tracks) and notice how the simplicity of the track actually detracts from it because there is a lack of variety in the chords and vocal inflections. There’s just not a whole lot going on…it’s pretty, in one ear out the other singer/songwriter music. And that’s exactly the kind of thing that Kivel needs to avoid, lest he become unrecognizable amongst an ever-growing genre of homogenous entities.

Days of Being Wild is nothing more (or less) than an encore. It shares the stripped down qualities of its predecessor, at times endeavoring to become even less accessible. Kivel is at no point interested in throwing big surprises at his listeners, which is a double-edged sword because his relaxed approach both defines his artistic style as well as puts a cap on its creativity. Strong lyrical content makes the light instrumental treading more captivating, but the album lives and breathes through its quiet, contemplative nature. Matt Kivel’s offering to his listeners is an unadulterated – even if rather simple – look at everyday life. Days of Being Wild won’t ensnare your senses or make a concerted effort to win you over, which is okay. All you can do is just embrace it, listen to it, and hope that it grows on you.




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user ratings (6)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 8th 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Sample track is actually one of his most uptempo songs...I like this guy's style I just wish this
album went down a few different avenues and branched out a little bit.

Digging: Low Roar - 0

BMDrummer
July 8th 2014


9997 Comments


Sounds kinda neat, might check sometime

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 8th 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I think it takes a certain kind of refined, minimalist taste but I've seen some reviews that rave about this album and this artist, in particular

BMDrummer
July 8th 2014


9997 Comments


I see, I love Nick Drake's final record though so this might be good

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 9th 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

This might be the least interest a featured review has ever garnered lol.

jredmond
July 9th 2014


216 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great movie.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 9th 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

lol

Thuckabe
July 10th 2014


51 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I think if he could have carried that same aura that the four minutes of Little Girls-Open Road brought throughout, this album would be pretty decent.

Digging: Bent Knee - Shiny Eyed Babies

ExplosiveOranges
July 10th 2014


3904 Comments


Meh. I might just ignore this one. Good review, Sowing.

Digging: Millicent Waffles - Under Dark Blue Blanket

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Thanks Oranges, this has its good qualities but I couldn't justify putting it at a 3.5

ExplosiveOranges
July 10th 2014


3904 Comments


Jesus Christ, I'm gonna second Sowing's notion that this review is getting ridiculously ignored despite having a feature.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

It's okay I wasn't actually complaining...all staff reviews get featured there's bound to be a few that no one cares about.

Just felt like giving a littler artist some exposure this week.

ExplosiveOranges
July 10th 2014


3904 Comments


Still. It's awfully empty in here.

Spare
July 11th 2014


5450 Comments


hey sowing you piece of shit

Digging: Forth Wanderers - Tough Love

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

That's better

thelastsignal
July 13th 2014


1638 Comments


Definitely sounds up alley, thanks for reviewing this Sowing.

Digging: The Banner - Greying

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

You're welcome, I hope you end up enjoying it!



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