Plenty of artists in various scenes have sounds that one would imagine go quite well together. Like if Radiohead and Bjork did a collaboration or the Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem. Possibly indie darlings Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile?
If the last one interested you, well you are in luck, as the two did just that and that’s how we got the album “Lotta Sea Lice.” It is a pleasant and warm collection of nine songs and a blend of Kurt Vile’s guitar tones and Courtney Barnett’s classic observational and literate lyrics making a lazy and warm sound similar to getting high by a river while talking about the world with a friend.
Both Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett have risen through the indie rock music scene, making strong names for themselves as respected, unique and enjoyable artists. For them to decide to make an album together is big news to much of the indie world. And “Lotta Sea Lice” is the delivery.
The first track on the album, “Over Everything”, is the prime opener and welcoming beginning. The track is filled with the country twang of guitar tones and breezy rhythm guitar strums that layer and create a pleasant and calming texture. When one thinks collaboration on tracks, you wonder how they will vocally trade off of each other. That is shown in this track, as they take turns on lines in the verses wonderfully playing off each other. Their insights come out like caring friends relating to each other like the lines,
Vile sings: When I was young I liked to hear music blarin’
And I wasn’t carin’ to neuter my jams with earplugs
Barnett sings: When I’m strugglin’ with my songs I do the same thing too
And then I crunch em up in headphones, cause why wouldn’t you?
You could say I hear you on several levels at high decibels
These lines describe how the two used to listen to music loud and without mind to hearing damage. A prime example of their dialogue over less than important subjects but something most people who listen to music can understand. This track is a glowing example of two music friends that are quite alright with just chillin’.
The next track, “Let It Go”, further demonstrates their carefree attitudes and even the title demonstrates that as they tell each other to “You’ve gotta let it go/ Before it takes you over.” What this track also features is a tumbling drum pattern that, combined with the loose guitar strums, adds to the laidback feel that not too much matters and you really should let things go. A track that continues to show their friendship.
Track 5, “Continental Breakfast” may be the most heartwarming example of that. The instruments on this track feature a shuffling drum beat and an aimless guitar that bends and waves around below their vocals. As for the lyrics some of the highlight lines are:Barnett sings,
I cherish my intercontinental friendships
We talk it over continental breakfast
Vile sings: I cherish my intercontinental friendships
Not much very big on enemies
This track further demonstrates the innocent and relaxed nature of both of these vocalists in a charming way. This track falls into the category of one of the highlights of the album.
To be honest if both Vile and Barnett had simply released solo albums this year surely they would have been quite enjoyable but to see a collaboration come out of the work is a real treat.
Some of the highlights like “Blue Cheese” and “Peeping Tom” showcase some real songwriting gems of this year. Sure the album drags at points with tracks like “Fear Is Like a Forest” or “Outta the Woodwork” but those tracks don’t really bog the album down too much and the wealth of fun moments of the album in the end outweigh. In summary, sit back, relax, make some tea, look outside, all with “Lotta Sea Lice.”