The album title suggests the laboured output of a laid back stoner. The artist suggests something a lot heavier and more vitriolic. However, in Kurt Vile's fourth full length record, Smoke Ring for My Halo, you end up somewhere in between with a surprisingly smooth collection that packs more punch than a lungful of the good stuff.

Getting into the studio with his live band The Violators for the first time, Vile seems to have found a more cohesive and less noisy sound than his previous solo efforts. This new stoned Americana vibe suits him well. What he's also created is a record that really works as an album rather than a collection of tracks. The cohesive agent affording such a seamless flow is that of Vile's vocal. It's hazily melodious to the point whereby before you know it you've listened through and need to restart the record.

That being said, there's plenty to get your teeth into on Smoke Ring...

'Jesus Fever' is just one of a number of standout tracks featuring some impressive guitar work and gives the album some early energy and potential radio airtime. Coupled with the nifty riffing, Smoke Ring sees Vile make advances in the depth of his lyrical prowess too notably on the equally peppy 'Peeping Tomboy.' <,p>

"I've Been Searching / I Don't Know What for / I Came across this girl / She was a tomboy / And I was a peeping tom"<.p>

Then there's the more downbeat and dark 'On Tour' recounting of life on the road. 'In My Time' includes a chord progression that sounds like it may come from a Stephin Merritt songbook. Indeed, such is the seamless and hazy flow of the album, it's tricky to pick out too many weaker moments.

Whilst the words dreamy, laid back, hazy and smooth all suggest that Smoke Ring For My Halo is almost verging on something akin to chillwave, let the record state that this, thankfully, this is not the case. There are enough whitey-preventing spikes on Smoke Ring... to keep even the most glassy eyed listener compos mentis and focused on the task in hand. The upbeat swagger and perfect production on 'Society Is My Friend' is another potential single waiting to be released. Then there's 'Puppet To The Man'. A potential anthem to the disenfranchised. Put simply, it makes me want to smash shit up, remove Microsoft Office from my laptop and go kick a Tory or two. Vile spits the vocals out in a manner that captivate his frustration and anger and are perfectly complemented by a crunching guitar riff.

With Smoke Ring For My Halo, Kurt Vile has created a record that encapsulates elements of apathy and anger whilst demonstrating his progression as both guitarist and wordsmith. In doing so Smoke Ring is his finest work to date and the perfect soundtrack to a hazy Sunday.

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