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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews


Kurt Vile
Smoke Ring For My Halo

Kurt Vile is like the rest of us — a product of his influences. When listening to Smoke Ring For My Halo it quickly becomes clear that records like Neil Young's On The Beach, or Lou Reed's Transformer, or even Deerhunter's Microcastle would be among his prized possessions. However, what is also clear when listening to this album is that Vile has a depth and style that belongs to him alone. And although the influences are apparent, any thought of fraudulence on his part goes out the window about 20 seconds into record opener, Baby's Arms.

Like any great album Smoke Ring transports you some place else. It takes you on a dead end trip back to the 'fuck the man' days where the songs are simple and sparse and the lyrics are delivered by someone who writes from a train carriage stuck between an unshaken, carefree existence and a desperate island of isolation.

Lyrically, this album is a true masterpiece. Tracks like On Tour and Runners Up really display Vile's high level of lyrical class as he lets it roll out with a subtle certainty that distances him from so many others who haven't let themselves really grow into their songwriting boots. He's not forcing anything, he's just completely comfortable with where he's headed and that sense echoes throughout the record.

After releasing three steadily improving albums previously, the development to this point is evident in the way the instrumentation from his band, The Violators, surrounds these simple songs and gives them the perfect amount of space and atmosphere. It's about the songs and the sentiment. It's thankfully not about a bunch of individual parts all clanging together in an attempt to make us believe they were born in the dustbowl, which has unfortunately become so common with this genre.

The quality really doesn't waiver throughout the whole album and this in some way really shows the benefit of a slow burning career like Kurt Vile's. He's had time to push his influences back to the subconscious level where they belong and now realizes that all he can really do is just be himself. Smoke Ring For My Halo is raw bones and genuine, and one of the best albums of 2011 so far.

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Kurt Vile


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mini suz

Yes it is a gorgeous album of understated greatness from start to finish. Nice review POA.

8 years ago


killer album.

8 years ago


I do love the record, but I can't help thinking it kinda just sounds like Rowland S. Howard before his balls dropped.

8 years ago

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