12 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After a handful of recordings of varied strength and style (Fahey-finger picking, lo-fi wooziness, mainstream flirtations), Philly’s Kurt Vile (his real name) returns with a set of tunes almost as diverse. Childish Prodigy is as hard to nail down as Vile himself (he’s also a member of War On Drugs); gritty, grinding tracks like the Cramps-ish “Hunchback” and “Freak Train” are tempered with his own brand of hazy, forlorn lo-fi pop (à la Atlas Sound). There’s vulnerability beneath the tarp of reverb threatening to smother the life out of these songs, and that vulnerability is mostly in Vile’s voice, which can run the gamut from a genteel, lost soul to a gravel-throated threat. Tracks like “Overnight Religion” and “Amplifier” are full of ambience and longing, and when Vile chants, “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care ....” on “He’s Alright,” you suspect he actually does. Guitars are strummed and plucked with economy, then woven into pleasing layers on the spare “Heart Attack” and “Blackberry Song,” but they howl with convincing splendor on “Monkey.” Childish Prodigy makes for a lively, if not slightly perplexing listening experience.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After a handful of recordings of varied strength and style (Fahey-finger picking, lo-fi wooziness, mainstream flirtations), Philly’s Kurt Vile (his real name) returns with a set of tunes almost as diverse. Childish Prodigy is as hard to nail down as Vile himself (he’s also a member of War On Drugs); gritty, grinding tracks like the Cramps-ish “Hunchback” and “Freak Train” are tempered with his own brand of hazy, forlorn lo-fi pop (à la Atlas Sound). There’s vulnerability beneath the tarp of reverb threatening to smother the life out of these songs, and that vulnerability is mostly in Vile’s voice, which can run the gamut from a genteel, lost soul to a gravel-throated threat. Tracks like “Overnight Religion” and “Amplifier” are full of ambience and longing, and when Vile chants, “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care ....” on “He’s Alright,” you suspect he actually does. Guitars are strummed and plucked with economy, then woven into pleasing layers on the spare “Heart Attack” and “Blackberry Song,” but they howl with convincing splendor on “Monkey.” Childish Prodigy makes for a lively, if not slightly perplexing listening experience.

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