Review Summary: Vile continues to carve an impressive niche for himself in the indie rock scene and once again defies expectations.
When it comes to the resurgence of Americana music in the last several years there is arguably nobody who deserves more credit for that resurgence than Kurt Vile. After debuting in the now iconic indie rock outfit The War on Drugs
, Vile went solo and signed with Matador records within a year. His label debut, Childish Prodigy
, saw him expanding his sound in unique ways that pushed the boundaries of his lo-fi rock n’ roll roots.
KV’s growth as a songwriter is apparent within the dense textures throughout the album’s 11 tracks, his reverb laden vocals providing an excellent contrast against the river of sound beneath them. Indeed, on tracks such as “Freak Train,” Vile’s howls further lend to the album’s psychedelic charm. Rather than go the more obvious route of bombastic rock choruses, Vile’s music is repetitious and meandering, endlessly moving but never reaching any particular destination. Songs like the folksy “Blackberry Song” are classic Kurt Vile, showcasing the refined Americana roots that Vile has gained such notoriety for.
The album is also the first in which Vile utilizes his touring band, “The Violators.” Their presence provides further contrast between Vile’s more intimate early material. Opener “Hunchback” kicks off with the most energy of any of Vile’s efforts at the time. The use of The Violators on “Monkey” works in its favor, creating one of the first BIG Kurt Vile songs. “Oh, my darling I was born when I met you. If you don’t mind now would I lie could I get you to redesign and redeliver me again,” he sings in whimsical abandon.
sounds like it could be heard in any given record store straight out of 1977. It evokes a nostalgia that few of its contemporaries have mastered. It becomes clear to the listener from the closing minutes of the record on the track “Goodbye Freaks” that Vile was never content with being strictly “the folk rock dude.” The drum machine rhythms and brass tones on the track showcase a willing playfulness that sets him apart from his peers. Though he has become often emulated over the last several years, Vile continues to carve an impressive niche for himself in the indie rock scene and once again defies expectations.