Kurt Vile
b'lieve i'm goin' down...


4.0
excellent

Review

by jefflebowski USER (10 Reviews)
September 29th, 2015 | 55 replies


Release Date: 09/25/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: KV adds banjo, existential musings; results still as good as ever

Kurt Vile, as both person and musician, is at once low key yet mildly absurd. Possessing a discography that somehow combines busy, intricate playing and a keen ear for sonic detail with a kind of lethargic, don't-care attitude comparable to noted musical somnambulist J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. , Vile's dazed earnestness is a welcome outlier amidst the self-conscious irony of the modern alternative music landscape. Over the span of 5 studio albums and an EP, he has has carved out a niche somewhere in the middle of Nick Drake-inspired folk fingerpicking, the amused detachment of Pavement and the scrappy, reverb-drenched haze of the American lo-fi scene. Additionally, and in similar style to his ex-bandmate Adam Granduciel of The War On Drugs, Vile is also fond of re-appropriating unfashionable 80s classic rock and country to his own warped ends, keeping the breezy sun-dappled textures but thankfully not the sickly, artificial production sheen that characterized much music of the era.

His latest, the infuriatingly styled b'lieve i'm goin down, is for the most part more of the same, at many points coming across as an amalgam of the KV back catalogue without really sounding like any one of his albums in particular. While this 'something for everyone' approach makes for a highly eclectic listen, the record occasionally suffers from somewhat of an identity crisis, sounding in weaker moments – the silly, shambling piano in the self-indulgent, overlong 'Lost My Head There' or the KV-by-numbers balladeering of 'Stand Inside' – like half written, reheated leftovers from across previous LPs. Vile's decision not to commit to a particular musical aesthetic, in contrast to Wakin' On A Pretty Day's luxurious soft rock maximalism or the low-key acoustic folk of Smoke Ring For My Halo can feel disjointed across a full 60 minutes.

However, for all its stylistic foibles the album contains plenty of career-best songwriting moments: opener 'Pretty Pimpin'' might be the finest of them all, artfully repurposing a twisted take on the 'Sweet Home Alabama' riff combined with naggingly catchy harmonies to tell an unusually mundane tale of existential crisis in front of the bathroom mirror. On paper it's dumb as hell, it's typical Kurt Vile and it works beautifully. In general, forays into poppier sounds tend to be the highlights – closer 'Wild Imagination' rides a nagging, spindly guitar line and a single melody for 5 golden minutes. In between, 'I'm an Outlaw' makes fine use of some hypnotic banjo and 'Dust Bunnies' is a prime slice of dusty road-trip rock, cruising along effortlessly on one of the album's most straightforward grooves.

Lyrically speaking, Vile's idiot-savant stoner philosophizing turns up about as many gems as it does induce cringing – the epic 'That's Life Tho (Almost Hate To Say)' is just about redeemed by its intricate fretboard curlicues despite the attempted (and thoroughly failed) profundity of the subject matter, an issue only exacerbated by the drawled, audibly smirking vocal delivery. Conversely, the mesmerizing psych-folk of 'Wheelhouse' backs some surprisingly sincere, introspective verses – It is never quite clear throughout the record where persona ends and person begins. Throughout, Vile makes choices both musically and lyrically that should be embarrassing and trite but he instead doubles down on them, creating a strange nether-world where the off-kilter, woozy arpeggios and conversational vocals of 'All In a Daze Work' can not only exist, but also not sound like the absolute worst title for a song ever. Kurt Vile isn't a fool, but he's not afraid to look like one, and in an odd way b'lieve i'm goin down is a truly fearless record.



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user ratings (169)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
jefflebowski
September 28th 2015


8573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's been a while folks, lemme know if my writing sucks

jefflebowski
September 28th 2015


8573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the avg rating for this is dumb as hell tho

Underflow
September 28th 2015


4356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed. No idea how this isn't higher. Fantastic record.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
September 28th 2015


39733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

decent alb nothing more nothing less

Veldin
September 28th 2015


3666 Comments


I really don't like this solo material or TWOD and can't get into them. Slave Ambient is enjoyable, but it's all kinda drab. Eh. Good review, mate!

InfamousGrouse
September 29th 2015


4331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

will read this properly later when I get the chance but Stand Inside is like my fav on here!

DoofusWainwright
September 29th 2015


20001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Need to spin this a few more times, so far not enjoying it quite as much as Smoke Ring

AngryJohnny
September 29th 2015


835 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't understand why I love War on Drugs so much yet can't get into Kurt Vile

jefflebowski
September 29th 2015


8573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

war on drugs use similar influences to KV but in a much more polished, melodic and energetic way - none of KV's records really drive like lost in the dream undoubtedly does

AngryJohnny
September 29th 2015


835 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah that's well put. The lack of 'drive' as you put it is probably why I don't find Mr Vile all that interesting

JWT155
September 29th 2015


14174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I loved Pretty Daze and cannot get into this so far. I think there's some cool ideas but there's definitely parity between Kurt Vile's musicianship and lyrics. Album lacks the melodies, lyrics are repetitive and cringy at times and overall inconsistent.

AngryJohnny
September 29th 2015


835 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah I cringed hard at quite a few of the lyrics here. Certainly not his strong point

JS19
September 29th 2015


6929 Comments


I feel like if KV spent about a year more on his albums they could be amazing. They all sound unfinished - like songs are still in the 'hey check this out' phase

Digging: Rafael Anton Irisarri - A Fragile Geography

InfamousGrouse
September 30th 2015


4331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

def agreed on Lost My Head There being overlong and 'lowlight'



Love the fingerpicking on Stand Inside tho it's a beaut + lyrics are just straight up feels



We do share love for select cuts otherwise - opener and closer for ex



jefflebowski
September 30th 2015


8573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the problem i have with stand inside is that it seems like he could write 586 similar sounding songs without even trying. sure the fingerpicking is lovely but that's par for the course for him at this point. lyrics are better than avg tho

jefflebowski
September 30th 2015


8573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the only one i didn't mention here that i loved was kidding around, which also has decent lyrics

InfamousGrouse
September 30th 2015


4331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Just waiting for the tab to go up so I can waste countless hours of my life trying to play it

JWT155
September 30th 2015


14174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

"results still as good as ever"



This doesn't even hold a candle to Pretty Daze..



"It was a Monday, no it was Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday.... screw it just list the week" Some of the lyrics on here are straight out dreadful. Yea he's going for the honest straight off the handwritten page lyrics but some of these sound like some kid trying to write poetry in Freshman English.

InfamousGrouse
September 30th 2015


4331 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

youre quoting a comment wherein he was passing reference to stand inside dude

JWT155
September 30th 2015


14174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I stand by my opinion but I won't quote jefflebowski



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