Kurt Vile’s been having a pretty good year so far, it’s safe to say. Smoke Ring for My Halo was released earlier this year and its popularity means it’s being re-released as a deluxe edition and comes with a 6 song EP along with it, as if you didn’t already have enough Vile material to enjoy. Everything about Kurt Vile echoes the 80s and male artists such as Bruce Springsteen: where Bruce Springsteen had the E Street Band, Vile has The Violators. Some artists are stuck within a time period, and for Kurt Vile, this is probably the best thing to happen for him. Many have probably tried to live up to the stature of two of the greatest male artists; Bob Dylan and Elliott Smith, but it’s hard to recreate a sound that belongs in the past unless you really breathe, sleep and eat those days as if they were just yesterday.
Kurt Vile has a hefty load of releases under his belt with 4 albums and 4 EPs in just 3 years. It’s interesting that you’d usually expect this kind of work ethic to come from a major popstar who’s been directed by their record label to churn out factory made hit after hit, whereas here, it’s just pure love and passion for making music that has fueled Vile to keep the ball rolling. You can tell that he’s very talented at what he does as the classic rock guitar that features so heavily is the kind you end up humming to yourself half way through the song, and in a way, the vocals become overshadowed because of the skill he displays.
So Outta Reach is reminiscent of the western movies you may have grown up with as a child, featuring John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. You can just imagine cowboys stood at either side of the town, kicking up the dust and reaching towards their gun holsters whilst looking squinty eyed – not the greatest of looks to pull off. Opener “The Creature” showcases intricate lo-fi guitar musings alongside gruff, world-weary vocals. Vile sings “So far, so great for me” and we’d agree, he’s had a strong year and if this EP is anything to go by, future material could be better. “Life’s A Beach” is the sort of title you’d expect from King Of The Beach himself, Nathan Williams so you might expect lo-fi surf pop vibes from this song, but instead we get a solemn offering from Vile. Its lyrics, such as “I’m so outta reach” are sobering, and bring about feelings of isolation and that constant personal battle to find your true self. This doesn’t quite seem to fit with the words “life’s a beach” that come afterwards.
For a man on his 8th solo release now, Kurt Vile is going from strength to strength and makes classic rock palatable and catchy like the greats have before him. Despite one of the songs being called “Laughing Stock,” Vile is far from it and proves himself as a highly professional artist to be taken seriously. He might as well carry on at the release rate he’s going, as material like this proves that you can perfect the balance of quantity and quality in music.