Kurt Vile - Square Shells EP - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Kurt Vile - Square Shells EP

by Rich Morris Rating:8 Release Date:2010-05-24

Ostensibly a stop-gap between albums, Square Shells is a collection of lo-fi but witty and sonically inventive songs. First track 'Ocean City' begins as a breezy, twee folk number before unfurling in a fuzzily, charmingly unfocused way that recalls both solo Syd Barrett and, with its cryptic "You've got a best friend/ Don't know how" refrain, The Velvet Underground's 'She's My Best Friend'. As subtle, buzzing electronic effects fade in at the end, the song widens from a sweet boho ditty into a space cadet oddity. It's a great start to the EP.

'Invisibility: Nonexistent' is a more muddled, grouchy affair, enlivened by some lovely oscillating synth effects. Vile sounds lost and psychologically washed out as he mumbles "I found it in a drug, then I don't know where I put it and it's gone..." Poor old Kurt - better sit down and have some sugary tea. The song expands into a long, meandering electro-psychedelic one-man jam that, although very pretty, doesn't quite succeed in holding one's attention. It's followed by the drifting Jim Jarmusch-dedicated instrumental 'Losing Momentum', a lovely piece of Eno-esque mood music.

The EP loses focus a little on 'I Wanted Everything', an acoustic bellyache which sounds like it was mostly improvised on the spot. Nevertheless, it features some beautiful, lilting guitar work from Vile and a killer refrain: "I wanted everything/ but I think I only got most of it." 'I Know I Got Religion' is perkier (and better recorded), but again it sounds like a song still in the process of being put together and it's probably the EP's least interesting track.

Thankfully, the EP's second instrumental, 'The Finder', is one of its best moments; its mournful organ and lo-fi electronics fading perfectly into the redemptive but fragile feel of final track 'Hey, Now I'm Moving'. Square Shells will please dedicated Vile fans for sure but it's also enough of a quirky, handily bite-size, well-realised curio to work as a means of introducing his music to the uninitiated.

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