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Kurt Vile

Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador)

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., March 18, 2011

SXSW Records

Kurt Vile

Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador)

With last year's Square Shells EP, Kurt Vile raised already high expectations for his follow-up to 2009's Childish Prodigy, and the lo-fi Philadelphia songwriter's fourth album continues apace. Vile refuses to sit in a single sonic mold, but Smoke Ring is more striking for its permeating sense of lingering. The album doesn't rush, and songs pop in their perfected grainy intricacies. In fact, where Vile could most easily drive with aggressive energy, he finds better bite by slowing down into shoegazing lulls, especially in the vicious triumvirate of "Puppet to the Man," "On Tour," and "Society Is My Friend," which spit in slo-mo, the latter drawing out "Society is my friend, he makes me lie down in a cold bloodbath." The success, and devil, of Smoke Ring is in the details, however, as the tunes prove intricately textured while still retaining an inherently garage feel, unraveling new elements as they sink in with lethargic weight. (Sat., 3:30pm, Auditorium Shores Stage)

***.5

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