Kurt Vile – ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’

Folk-tinged acoustic wanderings

[a]Kurt Vile[/a] 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 [a]Lou Reed[/a] (“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 [a]Big Star[/a], 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.

Alex Denney