Philadelphia singer-songwriter KURT VILE returns with a stepping-stone 7-song EP between Matador's reissue of his privately circulated "Childish Prodigy" album last fall and his upcoming new album recorded with John Agnello. "Square Shells" depicts some aspects of Kurt's music not immediately accessible on his last album, from dreamgazey jams to plaintive, folky melodies. Recorded in a brighter, less homemade sound, Kurt's extraordinarily evocative songwriting explores themes of friendship, loss and desolation.
As the title suggests, 'Square Shells' is also something of a collection of curios. Opening track "Ocean City" instantly grasps you with its charming, sunny melody - completely undercut by its loner lyrical vibe. If past Kurt Vile records channeled private-pressing downerfolk via early Pavement and Cass McCombs, this song layers Leo Kottke on Van Dyke Parks. Subsequent tracks move past the acoustic sound into beautiful layers of guitar and vocals. A perfect holdover for Kurt fans to bridge them to the upcoming proper full-length in fall 2010.