[7 July 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
On his last record, Double Exposure, Matt Kivel crafted a quiet, acoustic gem. There were some electronic flourishes, but it was mostly Kivel’s voice and the warm strum of acoustic guitar. But on Days of Being Wild, his first record for the Woodsist label, he stretches out his folk-pop songs in new ways. He brings in drums and electric guitar on tracks, filling them out with standard rock instrumentation without necessarily turning up the volume. “Insignificance” is built on a lilting, melancholy melody, but it’s braced by propulsive drums and rumbling electric guitar. “Open Road”, the loudest moment here, turns up the distortion to eleven, but it seems to mesh with Kivel’s voice at its bittersweet, melted edges. These new layers add to the hazy quality of Kivel’s songs, but they also puncture it, with a rundown on “A Couple Hours” or some distant staccato notes on the title track. These elements, the gentle alongside the forceful, also mirror the album’s shifts from the quietly aching (“Little Girls”) to the wide-open romantic (“You and I Only”). On Days of Being Wild, Kivel still isn’t going to shout, but he doesn’t have to. These whispers draw you in. These are the hushed secrets you want to know, that you lean in closer to find out about.