When I think of laid-back guitar rock, it’s hard to beat Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit. Unless you’re talking about Kurt Vile’s Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze. Luckily, Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile have joined forces on Lotta Sea Lice, their first record together. The result is an album loaded with wonderful, quirky duets, and great guitar work we’d expect from these two.
Right from the beginning of “Over Everything”, it’s clear this pairing is perfect. It’s got jangly guitar, laid-back vocal delivery, and, of course, long-winded descriptive lyrics we’ve come to love from these artists. There’s something about hearing Kurt Vile sing the word “periphery” or about hearing protection that’s appealing, even if it seems a bit mundane. It’s also great to hear Barnett respond to Vile throughout, and it really sets the tone of the record quite well as most songs on Lotta Sea Lice are duets with exchanging verses.
The intricate drum part on “Let It Go” really kicks that song into another gear, stealing attention from the vocals and guitar. “Fear is Like a Forest” is a Jen Cloher track that feels like a Neil Young epic at times with slightly distorted guitar, and this huge build to a great ending. “On Script” also features guitar madness at the end.
As you’d expect, the lyrics get a bit weird on a handful of tracks as well. “Continental Breakfast” is cleverly worded, singing about travel, spaces between places, and cherishing “intercontinental friendships”. It’s a great track, as is “Blue Cheese”, which starts out uneventful enough, but goes into some truly weird places, including Vile and Barnett singing “nanny nanny poo poo” (on a side note, it also is a great contender for the next Mundo list of songs about food).
There are also a couple of really special tracks for those who are fans of the artists. Vile tackles the verses to the Courtney Barnett track, “Out of The Woodwork”, off of her Double EP, A Sea of Split Peas. It’s awesome hearing Vile sing this song, as he gives new life to the track. On the other side of the record, Barnett creates her version of Vile’s “Peeping Tomboy” from Smoke Ring for My Halo with “Peepin’ Tom”. Barnett’s voice is flooring over Vile’s guitar part. Both of these tracks are done so well and are real highlights of the already great record.
Sometimes when two artists or bands get together, they can completely miss the mark. This does not even come close to happening on Lotta Sea Lice. Both Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett understand exactly what makes the others’ music appeal to so many music fans. If you’re a fan of either artist, you’ll absolutely love Lotta Sea Lice. It’s full of great moments, it’s fun, quirky, weird, and clever, exactly what you’d expect from these two, and much more. Lotta Sea Lice is out now on Matador Records
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