Kurt Vile albums

2011

Smoke Ring for My Halo (4.5 / 5)

       Kurt Vile provided an interesting contrast to most of the musical acts of the 2010’s mainly by just being his eccentric self. His style is a mix of classic rock and obscure British folk-rock from the 1970’s, and such an odd combination had never really been tried before. His breakthrough record Smoke Ring for My Halo is a true masterpiece that has revitalized my taste for simple, haunting and catchy music. Echoes of Nick Drake’s depressing Pink Moon and vocal warbles channeling Tom Petty at his most charming. “Baby’s Arms”, “On Tour”, and “Runner Ups” search the soul and bring back memories of Kevin Ayers early work.

            The talented guitar work goes a long way, as Vile can not only really play the instrument but finds creative ways to make memorable guitar licks. “Jesus Fever” and “In My Time” get just about everything right about true singer songwriters making memorable music, providing a mix of Cat Stevens and Lou Reed at times. To those critics who think there is nothing redeeming about Vile’s sound, there is: while it is based in classic traditions it creates something new and effective. For each song that can incorporate more in atmosphere alone (“Baby’s Arms, “Society is My Friend”), the album points forward and allowed for more songwriters of similar qualities (Courtney Barnett, Amen Dunes, Sharon Van Etten, Cass McCombs, etc.) to flourish; and that’s really what it’s all about. 

Best Tracks: In My Time, Jesus Fever, Society is My Friend