Kurt Vile
Bottle It In


2.5
average

Review

by Haygoody USER (21 Reviews)
October 13th, 2018 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A one-trick pony we embrace

In what has become his signature laid-back vocal delivery, Kurt Vile remarks, “I’ve always had a soft spot for repetition” in the verse of his single, “One Trick Ponies.” If there’s one line that could sum-up Vile’s tried-and-true approach to songwriting, you’ve got it right there.

The thing is, repetition is arguably the most important quality that Kurt Vile holds as a songwriter. Going into any of his albums, someone that’s heard the Philly musician before will have a pretty good idea of what they’re in for: some easy-tempo rock jams accented by Vile’s nonchalant voice wandering through it all as if unaware of the swells of music following it. That’s always been the formula, and based on the sound of his newest double-album, Bottle It In, it’s not going to change any time soon.

There’s a mountain of music that comprises Bottle It In, and the hour-plus length that Vile asks us to stick around for only seems to lengthen when us listeners start to catch on to how most of these songs operate.

Just take a look at the song “Check Baby,” which shows up in the middle of the album. It opens with a pretty delightful guitar riff over some chugging drums—no problems there. But around the halfway point of the song—which lasts almost eight minutes—it’s pretty apparent that things aren’t likely to change much from where they started. This isn’t made better by Vile’s lyrics, which begin to take on the feeling of the rambling monologue you’d hear out of a homeless man—saying a whole lot of nothing at all. You can imagine hearing “We give the devil a warm embrace and then we run like chickens from the dickens” coming from the street corner you’re trying to quickly pass by while avoiding eye-contact with the source.

But let’s make something clear, this is one of the reasons many of us love Kurt Vile. The man’s chock-full of blissful nonsense, which makes trying to analyze his lyrics for deeper context next to impossible. Instead of filling his music with meaning, it’s almost an art to make them as absurd as he can, and that’s something to be admired in its own right.

But the problem arises when taking this record as a whole, in which the listener is subjected to song-after-song of slacker tunes that seem comfortable just staying where they are for their duration. These songs almost never seem to evolve from their outset, but instead, get pummeled into our heads for unnecessary amounts of time. Because of this, the record’s two longest songs, “Bottle It In” and “Skinny Mini,” end up being the weakest. By the time “Skinny Mini” shows up at the album’s tail-end, the task of sitting through another self-indulgent 10-minute song feels mountainous.

Listening through, the need for some sort of variance grows so strong that oddities like “Rollin With The Flow”—which takes the mood of a 60s country ballad—and somber tracks like “Mutinies” end up being the only ones that stick out from the static of Americana-tinged monotony.

Of course, the album’s singles, “Loading Zones” and “Bassackwards” are some wonderful Vile-esque jams, but they’re what we’ve come to expect from him, so there’s nothing too surprising in either.

Bottle It In shows us that Kurt Vile has reached a point in his career where riffing over a nonchalant ditty isn’t going to sustain his listeners’ attentions any more. He’s a unique musician who’s developed a charming musical persona of indifference, but unless he starts expanding what he can bring to the table as an artist, that persona runs the risk of overstaying its welcome.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
juiceviaorange
October 13th 2018


726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Oh c'mon, KV rules

juiceviaorange
October 13th 2018


726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I understand people deeming his repetition as a weak spot, but there are two things at play here: 1. Kurt Vile is the type of artist that moves at a glacial pace and it's endearing. 2. This album actually DOES play around with a lot of new sounds, you just need to give it its due time. Again, understandably so, patience is a virtue and there's a lot of other things out there to explore in the meantime if you don't wanna wait around with Kurt. In the meantime, I'll be drifting along with Mr. KV.

Haygoody
October 13th 2018


8 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Fair point @juiceviaorange , I'm a fan of Vile myself but after listening through it repeatedly to prepare for this review, it lost its luster for me quickly. I just wish those longer tracks would change themselves up more in their runtime instead of just sitting in the pocket the whole time. Wakin On A Pretty Daze is a great example of how Vile used this sound to his advantage, while also providing enough diversity to keep listeners engaged.

Sharenge
October 14th 2018


329 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pumped to check this out

tombits
October 14th 2018


3544 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Spun the first half of this last night and I was kinda disappointed. 'One Trick Pony' is so schmaltzy and kitsch, which is the exact opposite of what I want from KV. 'Bassackwards' is my song of the year though, so I'm gonna give this record a little wriggle room. 'Check Baby' is heaps of fun, and 'Rollin With the Flow' is a dead-ringer for post-Beatles George Harrison.

Pajolero
October 15th 2018


1057 Comments


I don't think I've ever listened to a single song by this dude, but this was a good review.

Sharenge
October 16th 2018


329 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

always had a soft spot for repetition

juiceviaorange
October 17th 2018


726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This album rules

juiceviaorange
October 18th 2018


726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Of course, even as the biggest KV enthusiast, I can agree that the three 10 minute jams could all easily be trimmed down by 3 minutes each. I'm not a blind fanboy, but at the same token it's such a full Vile experience that I don't think I'd change a thing. Each and every song offers different moods, and the second half is certainly darker and more introspective. Anyone with the patience and a penchant for unfurling, thought provoking indie/folk music will enjoy this. If you weren't a fan of his to begin with, this won't win you over, but it is certainly a worthy and diverse entry into an awesome discography.

theBoneyKing
October 29th 2018


16327 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Been spinning this quite a bit, it's certainly bloated but there's a lot of great material ("Bassackwards" in particular is sublime). Manages to feel shorter than its 78 minutes.

theBoneyKing
November 4th 2018


16327 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I PARK FOR FREE

Underflow
November 4th 2018


4867 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gotta give this one some spins, loved Wakin' On A Pretty Daze

JS19
November 9th 2018


7076 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Saw him yesterday with a friend and he was - pretty bad

Digging: Neurosis - Official Bootleg - Live in Stockholm

Sharenge
November 12th 2018


329 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

that's pretty sad =(

AdolfChrist
November 12th 2018


20675 Comments


my friend showed me something from this guy, thinking about checking out some more.

Digging: Horsehunter - Horsehunter

brandontaylor
December 15th 2018


793 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is my first kurt vile album so that probably skews my rating a bit high... i can imagine after a few albums of the same sound this could be pretty tiring. 'one trick ponies' and 'bassackwards' are soooo good tho

nukethewhale
January 7th 2019


136 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Loved how 70's Rollin With The Flow sounded but I guess that's because it's a cover from the 70's :|



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