Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

"Smoke Ring For My Halo"

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
07 March 2011, 13:00 Written by Matt Dando

Sometimes an album will come along and consume any analytical edge you’re meant to be in possession of. That is not to say that you feel certain that the said record should be entirely immune from criticism; just that, from a personal standpoint, you wouldn’t feel honest in expressing such faults as they wouldn’t be your own.

Such is the case, though, with Kurt Vile’s fourth long player Smoke Ring for My Halo. What do you mean you’ve not had the pleasure of falling upon his music until now!? Well, quite frankly, you wouldn’t be the only music enthusiast to have only recently discovered the work of the rather delightfully named Kurt Vile. Although I’m sure they’ll be plenty of gig-goers desperately trying to tell you they’ve been tracking his every move since, like, 2008. Some will actually be telling the truth of course, but you can’t help but have your suspicions.

Smoke Ring…, however, is the first album to be recorded in an actual, fully-furnished studio; as well as being the first to have the backing of Vile’s touring band The Violators. They help bring a warmth and depth to each track that shouldn’t be understated, but the truly evocative ingredients lie in Vile’s vocals. You sense he could bring a poignancy to even the most banal of lyrics, through his way of careful accentuation and emphasis – although I feel implored to stress that Vile is not a run-of-the-mill songwriter. In fact, it’d be much too easy to fill this review with stand-out lines and couplets that do their best to soothe the soul.

The lyric-heavy composition can even feel slightly overwhelming on the first few spins, given the expectation from lead tracks ‘In My Time’ and ‘Jesus Fever’. But it doesn’t take much persistence before you’re at Vile’s mercy, trying to latch on to every word; wishing there was more you could do with what Vile presents here than to merely listen to it. In the end you just settle with lame imitations of Vile’s languid drawl. And just how ludicrous can you make yourself look when joining Vile in his “em” and “en” pronunciations on ‘Puppet to the Man’? But aside from diction, the track acts as a pointer as to where he may develop his sound next. In a recent interview with The Line of Best Fit, he indicated that a fuller, electric-guitar driven record holds appeal. Let’s hope he remains as prolific as he has in the last few years with releases if that is the case.

In the main, though, Smoke Ring… doesn’t need to wrench you out your seat in order to feel a part of it. Instead, it radiates a dangerously infectious lassitude which can prove hard to shake. It’s far too easy to sit and marvel at Vile’s musings, carelessly letting the day drift past your eyes. But somehow, in company as good as this, it never feels like time’s been wasted.


Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next