Kurt Vile's latest album, last month's Smoke Ring for My Halo, is his most subdued record to date; it's also his best. Much of the lo-fi scuzz that characterized Vile's previous three releases has been cleaned up and cleared away, leaving the focus on his nimble, exquisite finger-picking and his accompanying dark and deadpan vocal ramblings. Vile used those tools to create a warm, immersive record without losing his amiable stoner vibe or his insouciant sneer. "If it ain't workin'," he sings on "Runners Up," "take a whiz on the world." He's got "the next Lou Reed" written all over him.
Kurt Vile and The Violators are headlining the Sunset Tavern this Sunday night. EMA will open. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $12.