Album Reviews

Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy

(Matador) UK release date: 5 October 2009


Kurt Vile doesn’t want you to like Kurt Vile. He just wants you to nod your head and mutter “fuckin’ cool, man”.

Kurt Vile: he’s one of the blank generation. He knows about shit, how the world works, you know? He looks at you hard through his dark sunglasses. Kurt Vile: it’s trashy, a yeah-come-on-then-fuck-you name, the name of a dead-eyed bad boy. But, Kurt, doesn’t it sound just like Bertholt Brecht’s collaborator, the Weimar composer? Aw man, I wouldn’t know about that culture shit. I’m just Kurt Vile, you understand?

Kurt Vile: he’s a childish prodigy. I’m a fuckin’ prodigy, hear? Only I don’t take it seriously. You take it seriously if you want. It’s a play on words, you know?

Kurt Vile: 50% Velvet Underground; 50% The Jesus And Mary Chain. Childish Prodigy: 50% Velvet Underground & Nico; 50% Darklands. Cool.

Kurt Vile calls girls “girl” and men “man”. Girls need to get their heads re-screwed on, cos they’re gonna give Kurt a heart attack. As if he cares.

Kurt Vile switches on the drum machine and then spends seven minutes singing about “riding on the freak train.” What’s it like to ride on a freak train, Kurt? Is the train itself freaky, or the other passengers? Who fuckin’ cares, man? To an apostle of rock ‘n’ roll, “riding on the freak train” means what “for thine is the kingdom” means to a fuckin’ Anglican. It means fuck all, but don’t it sound impressive.

Kurt Vile knows it’s cool to sing about “riding on the freak train” cos if you take it seriously, it makes Kurt Vile sound pretty fuckin’ cool. If you think he’s taking the piss out of all that rock ‘n’ roll bullshit, that just makes him even more fuckin’ cool. And if you think he’s doing that half-homage, half-pisstake pastiche thing – well then, that makes him cooler than Lou Reed eating a Solero on a hot day.

Kurt Vile is in good company. He likes to do that fucked-up, fuzzy, don’t-give-a-shit thing that all those Brooklyn kids do.

Kurt Vile likes to start a song with a hiss, before the instruments or the vocals kick in. Just like on those old Velvet Underground records. Even though their records had a hiss on them cos they couldn’t afford a proper fuckin’ studio. Kurt Vile probably can afford a proper fuckin’ studio, but he wants you to think that he doesn’t want one. Mostly his vocals sound like they’ve been run through a fuzzbox, or a primitive old microphone which distorts all the words. Just like on those old The Velvet Underground records.

Kurt Vile got some more tricks up his sleeve. When he sings high, his voice just whites out into pure, sweet distortion. Just like on those old Velvet Underground records. Sometimes the sound goes away for a half a second in the middle of a song. Just like on those old Velvet Underground records. Cool, man. Cooler than John Cale building a snowman on Seventeenth Street and Third Avenue in January. With a carrot for a fuckin’ nose.

Kurt Vile suggests you buy this fuckin’ album. Not that he cares much. But if you don’t, he says he’s gonna make another one. And you don’t want that, do you?


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More on Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile – b’lieve I’m goin down…
Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze
Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy


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