Courtney and Kurt, not the first time we have seen this rock and roll duo, despite their differences in approach to music, are a surprisingly wonderful match. With Kurt Vile’s country zen and Courtney Barnett’s observational indie-rock they’ve successfully recorded an album that meanders through thought and soul.
Courtney Barnett, after the success of her last album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, has been working collaboratively with Kurt Samuel Vile, previous vocalist for The War On Drugs and solo singer, his last record being b’lieve I’m going down. And yes, their songwriting styles differ immensely but carry the same purpose for them in that they are coping mechanisms against the frustrations of our present world, willing elements of tranquillity.
Their musings are intimate, inviting the listener into a discussion between two thinkers, and we should feel privileged for being able to with this record. The music, guitar led, with drums is not only tight. Their lyrics pull you in and make you want to listen in further, especially as music is the crux of their discussions, particularly their songwriting processes. Barnett constantly reminds us, in fact, that it is music that we are listening to with her: “what comes first, the chorus or the verse.”
Over Everything is a discussion about their creative processes as Kurt Vile tells us “When I’m all alone on my lonesome and there ain’t another soul around” is when it’s best for him. The second track, Let It Go with lyrics like,”all those obligations lost in reverie” is more about the deeper apprehensions that come with being human, and remaining motivated. Accompanied aptly by a hiccupping drum beat (respectively provided by the Dirty Three team of Mick Turner and Jim White) this feeling of anxiety is amplified.
Continental Breakfast gives us an insight into touring for musicians: “I cherish my intercontinental friendships, we talk it over continental breakfast,” and Peeping Tomboy, sang by Barnett, is about finding the motivation as a musician and those feelings of indecision and slacking. For music aficionados this is also a great album to delve into, as it gives a fly-on-the-wall understanding of the issues that prevail with musicians.
Despite the differences between Vile and Barnett, it’s not obvious in the slightest with this record, as it seems a document to a creative friendship, listening to two that are able to finish each other’s sentences and meander over those topics that us journalists often cover when interviewing the likes of the Kurts and the Courtneys.
Lotta Sea Lice was released on 13th October 2017 via Marathon Artists/Matador/Milk! Recordings.