Welcome to Kurt Vile’s best record yet. Perhaps your favorite song is culled from one of his earlier efforts; fair enough, but there is no denying that Smoke Ring For My Halo, his fourth LP, is the defining sum total of Vile’s craft. In short, he consistently nails it on the whole as Smoke Ring possesses a through-line his past full-lengths only hinted at.

Occasionally with artists you can sense a storm brewing…something more nuanced than, say, “momentum” but present nonetheless. For those paying attention, this is how it has felt with Vile over the past couple of years, via his various LPs, EPs, singles and shows. On Smoke Ring, produced by John Agnello, we find Vile tightening up his sound without sacrificing an ounce of what made him interesting in the first place. Personality intact, extraneous noise and scruff give way to atmosphere and presence. A haunted psych-folk record, this is a potent sub-strain of American roots music more in the vein of Skip Spence and David Ackles than, say, Gram Parsons or Bruce Springsteen. These are the 21st century blues as sung by a young Philadelphian.

MP3: Kurt Vile :: In My Time
MP3: Kurt Vile :: Jesus Fever

6 Responses to “Kurt Vile :: Smoke Ring For My Halo”

  1. co-sign

  2. Excellent write-up. I personally still prefer Constant Hitmaker over Smoke For My Halo, but not by much…

  3. Love this album. Great talent. Wonderful production, intricate songwriting, mysterious, and weird.

  4. I totally agree. This sounds exactly like where I was hoping he’d go, instead of the more psych-rock direction of some of his live shows and tracks like “hunchback.” I prefer his songs that highlight his way underrated guitar work, fingerpicking and all. Can’t wait to see him with j mascis tomorrow night!

  5. “Aquarium Drunkard calls Smoke Ring for my Halo Kurt Vile’s “best record yet”. You should at least check that out.”


  6. I’d seen him live but and thought 35% better than meh but this is great. Wow.

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