Kurt Vile Childish Prodigy

Kurt Vile Childish Prodigy
There's no question 2009 has been a big year for Kurt Vile. Not only did the Philly psych-folk songwriter re-release his 2008 debut, Constant Hitmaker, and follow it up with the stellar God Is Saying This to You, but he was plucked from the DIY underground by indie powerhouse Matador, for whom he recorded Childish Prodigy. Like it or not, this isn't a record of surprises but one that takes Vile's musical idiosyncrasies — his equal love for finger-picked folk, bedroom pop and reverb-soaked freedom rock — and puts them in a more focused, album-oriented package. Unfortunately, this also makes Prodigy more familiar and, at times, ordinary, often taking on a swampy blues rock feel that strips away much of Vile's old lo-fi weirdness, as well as the feeling that you're privy to some longhair's own private orbit. The album does have some decent grooves, most noticeably the drum-propelled "Amplifier" and "Freak Train," but if you've been following Vile's fast-rising career, Prodigy will most likely feel more like a step down than a step up. (Matador)