I?ve been listening to this album on a regular basis over the last fortnight. We have had a rare heat wave in London over the last week and the time had come to spin some summer sounds. BBQ, lots of alcohol and all I needed was music to chill in the blistering sunshine. So, in hope, I turned to Kurt Vile. Pop sensibilities saturate Vile?s homemade one-man show, with a healthy slab of Ariel Pink, 39 Clocks and late John Lennon. First listens fizzle into the aether almost instantly ? this is most definitely throw-away, plastic-moulded pop music.
Kurt Vile is a self-lauded Philadelphia based singer/songwriter, who performs lo-fi folk and rock pop. The album has a memorable first half, yet veers drunkenly into obscurity towards the end. Comparison?s could be drawn with Theo Angell, yet Vile?s lyrical ability is a little base at times, and on songs like ?Don?t Get Cute? I found myself wincing with a little embarrassment. Aside from this, he also has the ability to forge a perfect gem, as proved in the forms of ?Freeway? and ?Space Forklift?. Experiments and audio manipulation break the sunny ease of the record, often drawing the listener towards an unexpected sonic plane.
The record has blossomed with repeat listening, yet I find myself getting annoyed by 40% of the tracks. There are a few small experiments that work well, mixing 70?s garage and folk music with lo-fi modern rock. For me Ariel Pink has blasted the genre, and Panda Bear with his recent phenomenon ? ?Person Pitch? has elevated it. It feels too little too late from Vile. The music swims above middle-of-the-road, yet bobs too close for comfort. This all seems a little glum, but I did genuinely enjoy much of what I heard!
The highlights on the record fill me with honeyed glee, as I sing-a-long and bask in their ingenious simplicity. The track ?Deep Sea? is simply gorgeous, fusing fractured lyrics with a memorable melody of lo-fi brilliance. It?s a record that didn?t need to be made, but I?m glad it did; for on a summer afternoon it helped beckon the evening with narcotic fingers. 6/10 -- Peter Taylor (13 August, 2008)