Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

Philadelphia’s constant hitmaker KURT VILE has another batch of hits ready for the world, and it’s due out on March 8th via Matador Records. We figured we might as well get on this one early before everybody else does, so here goes nothin’.

So for anybody who is even slightly familiar with previous Kurt Vile releases, they would probably tell you that KV likes to get a bit silly at times. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that – it adds a playful element to the music. On “Smoke Ring For My Halo”, however, KV kind of ditched the silliness all at once. Songs sound much broader and in-depth, which now would probably be a good time to say that this is a much more matured KV sound (and ‘KV’ stands for Kurt Vile – duh). These new songs have a warm, layered and homely feel, which is something that definitely comes along with experience and it definitely stands out – it’s much more bold, if you will, blending bits from colorful psych and twangy folk-rock.

Opening track “Baby’s Arms” is a great starting point, and it doesn’t take long into the song before it occurs to you. All the sounds and effects are very subtle, but there’s multiple things happening at the same time. Track two “Jesus Fever” is a different sound altogether, but once again you get plenty of swirling guitar noise and effects, which by now you should know is KV’s specialty. This song has a folky inflection in it’s own way, as the guitars twang and jangle along with a slight sprinkle of some of that authentic KV weirdness.

Following that up is “Puppet to the Man”, where Vile sounds bold and stern in his vocals, like there’s not much that’s going to break him. “Society is My Friend” is a confusing title because it never seemed like KV would be talking in favor of things like “the man” and “society”. Normally it would seem like he’s just too caught up in his own thoughts to care, but whatever. This song is a perfect example of the swirling atmospheres that are present on this album, because the sound here is so deep. This makes me think our new buddy Mike Adams and Kurt Vile might have an interesting conversation together.

In “Runner Ups”, KV refers to his friends as if they were objects – almost like he’s labeling them. This is a mystical song indeed, being screened behind a mysterious haze complemented by the crystal clear acoustics with an awesome hook once it comes full circle. The swarming guitar is by far the most prominent element in these thickly layered songs, but either way this is still an unusual but highly unique concept for a song. Because in all honesty, I’ve never thought of friends as being “runners up”. “In My Time” comes next, with it’s glistening, prehistoric guitar glare that we first heard on the “In My Time” 7″. The sun-kissed and buzzy guitar leads will definitely have you coming back for a second helping.

“Peeping Tomboy” sounds like a rainy day sitting and looking outside your window, which could easily be mistaken for sad and depressing. KV sounds brooding and concerned with sitting around and working all day, but really he should just make up his mind and come to a conclusion. By the time the following two tracks come and go, you should realize yourself that Vile has certainly grown as a musician. His in-depth, underlying soundscapes certainly prove that. But whether it’s the weeping guitar solos of “Smoke Ring For My Halo” or the cascading ambiguity of the closer “Ghost Town”, there’s definitely something worth hearing for everybody on this album. Check the songs below – you’ll be glad you did.

Society is My Friend –

Runner Ups –

In My Time –

Ghost Town –

My Rating: 8/10
Genre/ Tags: Indie Rock, Singer/ Songwriter, Folk Rock
Smoke Ring For My Halo: Tracklist:
1.) Baby’s Arms
2.) Jesus Fever
3.) Puppet to the Man
4.) On Tour
5.) Society is My Friend
6.) Runner Ups
7.) In My Time
8.) Peeping Tomboy
9.) Smoke Ring For My Halo
10.) Ghost Town

PRE-ORDER the new LP from Insound – ships Mar. 8th and comes w/ a free poster !!!
Check out KV live in Philly w/ FUCKED UP last February
In My Time 7″ previously posted on the Drone
Square Shells EP previously posted on the Drone
Kurt Vile on Myspace

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