Thursday 24 February 2011

Kurt Vile Vies For Elegaic Angeldom

I have to say, Im very happy to see the continual ascendence of Kurt Vile. It took me a little while to get around to listen to the Philly native - blanket blogosphere fawning does that - but its always good to hear the universal praise being warranted, with Vile's lyrical voice a shadow of the laconic J Mascis. He is in constant demand for collaborations and remixes (most recently on the Dinosaur Jr frontman's sublime solo effort Several Shades Of Why), and tours pretty heavily, yet remains prolific with his musical output.

And on Smoke Ring For My Halo, we have a fleshed out affair much different from the lo-fi fuzz of 2008's Constant Hitmaker, and on the most part this is a good thing. The added focus of a backing band (Vile's on/off The Violators) creates some serious depth on the languid cruise through 'Ghost Town' and the Crazy Horse stomp of 'Puppet To The Man', whilst the clarity in production brings Vile's flok guitar proficiency to the forefront. Its decidedly shambolic in scope and nature, with Vile's dispassionate vocal delivery offering at times a poignant drawl, at others a laconic sneer. Sometimes it works admirably - 'Jesus Fever' is a sunny gem that infuses Vile's wily lyrics with some verve, and 'On Tour' mirrors the world-weary view of a long time out on the road; at other times it comes across as almost disinterested. But the songs are well structured, applying a welcome skewed view on alt-folk tropes that the high production values buff to a beautiful sheen rather than bury it in needless pop and fizz. Vile has a bit to go before he creates an entire album of hits, but his rise is one that I will ride all the way.

Smoke Ring For My Halo is out on March 8th through Matador. He is touring Stateside with J Mascis for the majority of March and April - what a double bill!

Kurt Vile - Jesus Fever

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