Kurt Vile | Childish Prodigy

Matador (2009)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  September 28, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars


Kurt Vile's punny name, as well as the title of his latest full-length album, bespeaks low-art subversion — surely the classical archetypes are running for the hills. The Philly-based singer/guitarist, who also does time in the band the War on Drugs, sounds like Mick Jagger holed up in a walk-in closet, perhaps suffering from blissful amnesia, perhaps hiding from a Keef-like figure, armed only with that catwalk sneer and a four-track recorder.

Vile's reductive charm dominates one-chord-pulse experiments like "Dead Alive" and "Overnite Religion"; meanwhile, album highlight "Hunchback," a thick mid-tempo head nodder, forgoes meditative fuzz for fuzzed-out, anthemic swinging for the fences. Throughout, a messy æsthetic attempts to cover up pop sympathies — or simply proves that dissonance and sweetness needn't be kept in their separate corners.

"You tell me a good man is hard to find/Well, what are you, blind?", Vile sings at one point, visible there just beyond the veil of echo and distortion.

Related: Review: Keith Richards's Life, As he is, Photos: Kurt Vile at the Brighton Music Hall, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Mick Jagger, Mick Jagger, war on drugs,  More more >
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