Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile
Lotta Sea Lice


3.5
great

Review

by Thomas S. USER (27 Reviews)
October 15th, 2017 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An emblazoned ode to friendship.

Sixteen thousand kilometres separate Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett and Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile, but a collaboration seemed written in the stars. Watching the two on stage together, it’s hard to imagine the shambolic duo as anything but the oldest of friends. I can picture it now: two smelly teenagers sitting face-to-face on the living room floor - Lennon and McCartney style - honing their songwriting craft in reciprocal conversations of musical creativity. It’s strange then, to learn the pair didn’t meet until Courtney supported Kurt during his first Australian tour in December of 2011. And now, after six years of sporadic emails, long distance phone calls and matter-of-chance festival meet-ups, we’ve arrived at what seems like the inevitable: Lotta Sea Lice, the pair’s first collaborative album.

The artistic similarities between Barnett and Vile are a miraculous feat of musical convergence. On pastoral opener ‘Over Everything’, the pair trade verses in a laconic Lou Reed-esque drawl; it feels as if you’re pleasantly stoned on the couch, relaxed and content to listen to their existential ramblings. The jangly guitars meander restlessly in unison, and it’s only when Kurt rips a rambunctious Crazy Horse solo during the outro that you can truly differentiate them. Barnett’s anthem to apathy, ‘Let It Go’ continues the conversational tone (‘What time do you wake up" / Depends on what time I sleep’) over a shuffling drumbeat provided by The Dirty Three’s Jim White; the gently lilting melody is more articulate than your average Kurt Vile song, but as always, he sings with endearing congeniality.

‘Outta The Woodwork’ is the first of two self-covers on Lotta Sea Lice. Kurt transforms Courtney’s original piano dirge into a Spaghetti Western stomper, complete with plucky pentatonic solos and Barnett’s phantasmagorical harmonies. It’s an engaging rendition, but pales in comparison to Courtney’s arresting cover of ‘Peeping Tomboy’ - an underrated Vile-penned sleeper from 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo. Slowed and transposed, Barnett’s version sounds less Bob Dylan and more Iron and Wine; sun-soaked and wistful, with a melody that swoops and arcs across warm arpeggiated chords. Here the wry wit of the original (‘She was a tomboy / And I was a peepin’ Tom / You know what I mean’) is re-contextualised to reflect Courtney’s sexuality - a newfound profundity amplified by Barnett’s surprisingly yearning vocal performance. Behind the swaggering facade, there’s a touch of Sharon Van Etten-level poignancy.

The ramshackle recording process of Lotta Sea Lice has imbued plenty of charm, but after the third or fourth listen, the seams begin to fray at the edges. There’s a hint of the Lennon-McCartney curse about this record: multiple songwriters makes for little continuity, and you’ll find yourself playing favourites. But what this album does succeed in, however, is never undermining its own integrity to impress you - a sentiment wonderfully encapsulated by Danny Cohen’s sepia-tinged videoclip for ‘Continental Breakfast’. Mustard chairs and messy studios; pet cats and children’s drawings; family dinners on the porch; we too easily forget that these mundane, inconsequential things are often what we value the most. And just like the videoclip, Lotta Sea Lice towers as an emblazoned ode to friendship - not just between Courtney and Kurt, but among the extended cast of friends and family that enrich their respective lives.



Recent reviews by this author
Broadcast Tender ButtonsMildlife Phase
Crepes In CahootsMelody's Echo Chamber Bon Voyage
Unknown Mortal Orchestra Sex and FoodCrepes Channel Four
user ratings (81)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
tombits
October 15th 2017


3544 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Tried to submit under 'Courtney Barnett + Kurt Vile' but I don't think the system likes the '+' - anyone able to combine the two?



Short and sweet. Album is streaming on Spotify!

SandwichBubble
October 15th 2017


9543 Comments


I just asked in the Meds thread, so we'll see how long it takes: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/forums/showthread.php?p=19311258#post19311258

Digging: R. Stevie Moore - Children's Museum

tombits
October 15th 2017


3544 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ah sweet, thanks man!

DoofusWainwright
October 15th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Album was already loaded so I guess they'll move the review to the existing entry

hamid95
October 15th 2017


635 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Fantastic review! Great flow in the writing.

butcherboy
October 15th 2017


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

great review.. album is a delightful bore, much like the parties involved..

Ryus
October 15th 2017


17388 Comments


i like "over everything" a lot more than i thought i would

Digging: Fort Romeau - Kingdoms

theBoneyKing
October 15th 2017


16296 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

There's some pretty meaty instrumental work here tbh, a couple duds but overall it's a very good listen.

tombits
October 15th 2017


3544 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@butcherboy, I know what you mean, a couple of the tracks lack substance but there's enough charm to keep me engaged.



@Ryus, probably the standout song! Kurt's tracks generally feel a lot more organic, maybe because Courtney is the more adaptable of the two - I noticed she pinches her vowels to match his American twang. 'Continental Breakfast' is similarly fantastic.



@theboneyking, I was gonna pan 'Blue Cheese' but I didn't wanna have to listen to it over and over.

tommygun
October 16th 2017


26852 Comments


nice review vile is cool but barnett is god awful will not listen

tombits
October 16th 2017


3544 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@tommygun, you might be surprised, I'm not a huge Barnett fan but it seems like writing with Vile has brought out her best.

tommygun
October 17th 2017


26852 Comments


her voice is a deal breaker :[

tommygun
October 17th 2017


26852 Comments


will just spin wakin on a pretty daze again :]

luci
October 17th 2017


10736 Comments


"over everything", "peepin tom" and especially "continental breakfast" are all great. rest is whatever... 3.5 is accurate

DoofusWainwright
October 17th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I too mistrust a dodgy Barnett - but her cover of Peepin Tawm is veeeerrrr good

tombits
October 17th 2017


3544 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ Lucid, yep those are my favourites too. 'Let It Go', 'Outta the Woodwork' and 'On Script' are good too, but a tier below.



@ Doofus, best thing she's done thus far I reckon!

vonseux
October 18th 2017


315 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Track 2 is really annoying

tombits
October 19th 2017


3544 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ vonseux, I kinda like it as a point of difference from the alt-folk and blues vibe of the other tracks.

tombits
October 21st 2017


3544 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dropped the rating from 3.5 to 3.0 - the charm begins to wear off after a good ten listens.

brandontaylor
November 20th 2017


791 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3.3 average is pretty spot on for this. quite a pleasant album but i dont see myself revisiting it.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy