KURT VILE Smoke Ring For My Halo CD/LP

It’s an obvious slight to call a record boring.  It seems dismissive, and surely if I was Kurt Vile and was about to read a hundred fucking reviews that laid that one out, I’d scream.

News Flash: the record is boring.

Second bit of news: It’s powerful, intelligent, and takes tons of chances.. Subtly.

Surrounded by musicians making music that leaps off the page, or suggests it was recorded at a party or under the influence of glue in a stairwell somewhere, Kurt goes Robert Frost… and it succeeds.

The production on this record is crystalline and punchy and seems to have a capable engineer behind it.  This is not the Woodsist idea of psych, Kurt can actually play and thankfully he doesn’t take the cop-out and hide behind a wall of noise and frost that coats those who are doing it for licks on their cinnamon stick.  It’s easy to see that Kurt Vile is a musician living amongst hobbyists although it’s not easy to see how that functions.  The record is same-y and bland in moments, but those moments could just as easily be identified as his most lucid and best executed.  Sometimes, like on ultra-pop track ‘Jesus Fever’ his voice totally saves a strange production agenda that sounds like Donovan playing to a keyboard drum machine in 1976.

Either way, there’s no denying that this kid is better than good.  He’s great. The record will put some people off, but it’s a lot like how you talk about your dick… it’s a grower, not a show-er. [Matador]

-Alan Price


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