Courtney Barnett with Kurt Vile: Lotta Sea Lice


Cooperating to release the LP Lotta Sea Lice, Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile have created tracks that wander away from the band’s tempo and tell inside jokes you’re not in on. So you end up listening closer and wanting to know the background story. Take ‘Let It Go’ which ambles around with conversational quips like “What time do you usually wake up? Depends on what time I sleep” and encourages each other to make it through the “backstage lethargy” and creative blocks of confusion they’ve encountered. When Barnett was challenged by her looming next project, Vile sent her a partly finished song, was invited to her studio, and the two created an album that reflects their collaboration and conversation. ‘Fear is Like a Forest’, a cover from Barnett’s wife Jen Cloher, has been called “a dark, lonesome, slacker-artist thesis statement” by Kornhaber of the Atlantic;  with lyrics like “Songs here, underneath my fingers waiting to be sung”.


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What works about the pair is the balance they strike. Barnett in her clear, precise approach which doesn’t permit the same foolery Vile does. His voice is a smoky storyteller, like sage burning and senses mixing so scents are visible and sounds are more tangible. Vocals don’t stay with the tempo, but rather checks back in on it occasionally. Listen to the track “Continental Breakfast”  as a prime example of the cadence and personability the album takes. With blunted, almost apathetic energy, you can hear the existential exhaustion from these two creative minds.


Review and Photography by Megan T.

Categories: Live Music

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