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Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums

Page 28

Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums
28. Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)
Philly singer-songwriter Kurt Vile is blessed with an odd insight into the darker corners of the mind. Vile's deadpan drawl owes a significant debt to Lou Reed but Kurt is warmer and often funnier. Kurt drifts through the tambourine and acoustic buzz of "Ghost Town" with a mix of melancholy and bemusement. His delicate plucking on songs like the gorgeous "Baby's Arms" makes the record a stellar showcase for his guitar skills. He recorded Smoke Ring For My Halo, his fourth album with his band the Violators for a fuller, more rocking sound. The Violators lend a satisfying FM radio crunch to the sardonic "Puppet To The Man" and Springsteen-style keyboards to "Society Is My Friend." "Baby's Arms" is also the only song that sounds entirely sincere, a warm ode to his significant other who makes him comfortable enough to feel small "like Tom Thumb." "On Tour" sees Vile compare life as a touring musician to Lord of The Flies, where you can get pumped full of lead or stabbed just for fun. Vile is a detached, bemused philosopher touring Middle America with a broken guitar case; we're just privileged to come along for the ride.
Aaron Matthews

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