Album Of The Week: Kurt Vile – (watch my moves)

On his ninth LP the loveable Philly maestro bewitches more than beckons the listener to join his own meandering musings

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Kurt Vile has never been afraid to move at his own pace. As he put it on 2018’s Bottle It In – borrowing a line from country’s silver fox Charlie Rich – “Somehow on and on I go/ I keep on rollin’ with the flow”. Like a dog that resembles its owner, Vile wears this mellow, languid manner as comfortably as one of his favourite plaid shirts — evident from the content, slightly surprised look fixed to his friendly face.

That this air is so endearing (who doesn’t want to hang back and roll with flow?) speaks volumes to the appeal of Vile’s songs – now almost two decades worth – and why they’re perhaps best enjoyed during the golden hour glow of a summer’s day. In a way, listening to Kurt Vile is an exercise in letting go.

But though the title of the latest record, (watch my moves), seems to beckon us closer as if helping us hone this long practiced artform, by the end of its 15 tracks it feels more like being duped by a super-chill Pied Piper. The LP is some of Vile’s most blissfully stupefying work to date, not least the pearlescent ‘Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)’, which he calls “the sound of the elements around me—where I’m from, where I live, and where I’m going.”

Kurt Vile - Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)

The track’s title nods to his unbelievably aptly named neighbourhood in Philadelphia, which does well to remind that, for all the dreamy guitar swathes (‘Palace Of OKV In Reverse)’, arm-swaying grooves (‘Like Exploding Stones’) and sonic warbling (‘Fo Sho’), this isn’t just hazy escapism. Placed in space and time with KV, we’re invited to feel what he feels — “And guitars feeding back now/ Feedback massaging my cranium” — and to share musings like “Man, life can sure be fun” with the same nugget of surprise as though learning a new factoid or finding a dollar on the floor.

Step into Kurt Vile’s world for an hour. It’s a pretty nice place to be.

(watch my moves) is out today via Verve Records. Kurt Vile & the Violators play the UK this August. Tickets are available here.