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Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy

  by Andrew Carver

published: 24 / 10 / 2009

Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy
Label: Matador Records
Format: CD


Excellent third album of distorted rock from Philadelphian genius singer-songwriter Kurt Vile, whose seeming amateurish exuberance does not conceal his ability to write a sharp tune

Another genius escapes from the bedroom. Along with lo-fi pop auteurs like Girlfriend, Airel Pink and Jay Reatard, Kurt Vile is recasting the sound of teen-pop melancholy as a fuzz-shrouded Americana that owes as much to classic rockers like Bob Seger and Big Apple poets like Patti Smith as it does to early lo-fi garage mavens like the Oblivians and the Gories. Surrounded by a blanket of buzz, Vile drawls like a lo-fi Tom Petty “floppin’ and flippin’ around like a fish!" in ‘Hunchback’, a poignant song about social disconnection as physical disfigurement. The fingerpicked ‘Dead Alive’ could be a fragile folk song if it weren’t similarly swathed in distorted harmonics or crawling under Vile’s deadpan vocals. ‘Blackberry Ssong’ pulls a similar trick, with its multitracked strings chiming in the front in juxtaposition to the bathroom reverb of Vile’s singing. Meanwhile, on ‘Freak Train’ Vile’s vocal mantras detour into a Stoogean swirl of guitar noise and sax squall (or at least its cheesy keyboard and drum machine equivalent). Wandering sound levels, popping microphones and a general aura of stumbling balladry will probably remind some listeners as a throwback to such private press ancestors as Stone Harbor, while Vile’s songwriting owes more than a little to Iggy Pop’s idiot savant lyricism and the late Jim Carroll’s New York bite. Even the album cover conveys an amateurish exuberance, with out-of-focus photography on the cover and letters crawling out of sync on the back (two songs are left unmentioned entirely). Don’t be fooled though – under the random noise and overdriven amps is a bevy of sharp tunes and cool music.

Track Listing:-
1 Hunchback
2 Dead Alive
3 Overnite Religion
4 Freak Train
5 Blackberry Song
6 Monkey
7 Heart Attack
8 Amplifier
9 Inside Looking Out
10 He's Alright
11 Goodbye, Freaks
12 Farfisas In Falltime

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