Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice LP

(Matador/Milk! Records, 2017)


"The transcontinental pairing of Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile makes an immediate, intuitive kind of sense. Both are wry, casually thoughtful songwriters with immediately recognizable singing voices, hers arriving in clipped Aussie syllables and his a wispy Philly drawl. They exude an almost supernatural relaxation on record, coming off like the kind of characters who have both the chutzpah to ask for your last cigarette and the charm to bum it successfully. With their pointed features and mats of thick brown hair, they look like long-lost cousins.

But they’re not quite doppelgangers. And the subtle differences in their musical approaches suggested that each could bring out the other’s best qualities in collaboration. Barnett occasionally dips into grungy punk, but her best material inhabits the same languid atmosphere that Vile consistently channels on his solo records. Vile’s evocative but unspecific lyrics might be sharpened with the aid of Barnett’s wordplay and gimlet eye for detail. As for their names, well, the coincidence felt like a cosmic joke: while the original Kurt and Courtney became rich and famous cultural icons in part by their willingness to lay bare their most intense emotions, these two are often content to chronicle the mundanity of the everyday." - Andy Cush for Spin