March 2, 2011
Kurt Vile - 'Smoke Ring For My Halo'
Folk-tinged acoustic wanderings
8 / 10
Kurt Vile is the kind of guy who lugs about his talent like an unwanted piece of luggage. The Philadelphian songwriter’s second album for Matador is a thing of strange and reluctant beauty, leaning more heavily than before on his folk-tinged acoustic wanderings but suffused with the same vague dissatisfaction.
On ‘Puppet To The Man’ he does street-tuff words to the wise like Lou Reed (“This one goes out to all the ones who want the right to SURVIVE”), but in the main this unspools like a lonesome ode to God’s country in the manner of Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas – ‘In My Time’ comes on like the monochrome ghost of Big Star, while ‘Society Is My Friend’ is the sound of a true maverick unafraid of taking the untrodden path.
The overall impression is of gloomy landscape paintings with a spooky, residual feeling that God might be hiding behind every cloud or passing tumbleweed — electrifying.
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