Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kurt Vile 'Smoke Ring For My Halo'

Philadelphia's psycho folk troubadour Kurt Vile has released his fourth full length album, the second for Matador Records. Since 'Constant Hitmaker' (Gulcher) Vile has been turning heads with his transcendent guitar style amalgamating folk, psychedelia and indie producing something entirely unique and unmatched. Those who enjoyed 'Childish Prodigy' will find bursts of heavy psyched out rock on this new album, however, Vile reins it in considerably and offers up some surprises that surpass everything he's done before.

Opener "Baby's Arms" breezes in setting the tone for the record with ethereal, dreamy notes tumbling over each other anchored with aloof musings and metronomic rhythms. An ode to a loved one dealing with finding comfort Vile hums, "I get sick of just about everyone and I hide in my baby's arms". It's these confessions and takings on his everyday life that continue to be a theme on the album. "Jesus Fever" kicks things up a gear with chiming, aerobic guitars at the forefront of the song with piano parts and foot tapping rhythms. "I pack my suitcase with myself but I'm already gone" sung with his commanding yet unassuming vocal style, it's this lone wolf viewpoint that aptly sums up 'Smoke Ring For My Halo'. Introducing sinewy guitars on "Puppet Man" and "In My Time" the record takes twists and turns down rockier, moodier roads. Seamlessly weaving in lyrics from past records, such as "Runner Ups" echoing "Red Apples" ('God Is Saying This To You'), "Hey girl come on over that'd be just fine" is an unexpected delight. Vile summons some sort of voodooism with closing track "(shell blues)" with a soft, disconsolate piano played alongside a single chiming bell that lingers long after the album is finished. This release is nothing short of sheer brilliance, Kurt Vile's gift for song writing makes today's music scene a more exciting place to lose yourself in.

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