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On Second Listen: Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy

on February 03, 2010, 5:30pm

The main problem with Childish Prodigy is how misleading each song tends to be. With a somewhat unknown name, it’s easy to predetermine the sound of the whole album based on one track alone. Yet, with Kurt Vile each song is its own genre, an entirely new experience, which makes Childish Prodigy a beautiful listen from start to finish.

Distortion plays the lead role in both “Hunchback” and “Dead Alive”, combining No Age style punk with a voice not yet introduced to the audience. As “Overnite Religion” fades in, we finally catch a glimpse of Vile’s words, effects and guitars aside. What’s there is breathtaking, a voice that sings while effortlessly talking over simple chords and a shaker bouncing up and down. This sudden helplessness makes any thoughts of repetition disappear as we are exposed to the vulnerable lyricist for the first time.

“Blackberry Song” and “Heart Attack” give different perspectives of Vile as the unexpected soft poet, and worries of instability begin to arise as he shares more and more through song. Not to worry though, as “He’s Alright” explains that, well, he’s alright. Along the way “Monkey” and “Amplifier” provide relief with feel good rhythms and a tambourine to boot.

Vile ends with “Goodbye Freaks”, an eerie electro-pop beat combined with a wandering trumpet without a sense of purpose. The repetition is welcomed, as the song ends all too soon (as does the entire record).

The recording quality on Prodigy is excellent, not just in attention to detail but in the way you can hear Vile’s calloused fingers slide from bar chord to bar chord as the metal strings fight a losing cause. The reverb used on many of the tracks is not just studio magic, as delay and echo are combined to create the overall aroma of large sound.

The only reason Childish Prodigy isn’t deserving of five stars is the obvious potential left unseen and the excitement I have in hearing future projects. After all, this is his first complete album to date, which remains a ridiculous achievement.