It’s only been six months since Philadephia’s Kurt Vile dropped his much heralded Matador Records debut, Childish Prodigy, but for an artist known to be as prolific as anyone this side of Mr. Ryan Adams, it feels like an eternity. He’s back now, though, with Square Shells, a relatively brief 7-song EP (out today) meant to whet our appetites for a full-length currently working on, and well, mine is successfully whetted.
Who knows if it’ll carry over to the full-length, but we get to see a different side of him here—while Childish Prodigy was successful as an exercise in determining the degree to which one can obscure a hook with hazy atmospherics and squealing feedback without undoing the effect of the hook itself, Square Shells seems more content to proudly, almost defiantly leave the hooks out there in the open. Opener “Ocean City” is the sweetest, most concise bit of folk-pop he’s ever written. “Invisibility: Nonexistent” has the meandering feel he’s perfected over the years, but its reigned in by an uncharacteristically clear, direct vocal melody that sounds like something out of the They Might Be Giants playbook. He seems more focused than ever before, which may not actually be true: Instead, it could just be the noticeable step up in the fidelity department—it’s more polished than Prodigy, and with John Agnello handling production on his new record, it seems this could be a sign of things to come. And that would be a-ok with me. Vile is only one of countless artists, many of whom are based right here in Brooklyn, I’d love to hear without the restrictions, self-imposed or otherwise, of the lo-fi aesthetic.
UPDATE: Oh, the EP is apparently free now. You should probably get it.