The Guardian - G2 - - Reviews Music - Ben Beau­mont-Thomas

Artist Kurt Vile Al­bum Bot­tle It In La­bel Mata­dor

Play­ing big the­atres and re­leas­ing an av­er­age of an al­bum a year for eight years sug­gests steely pro­fes­sion­al­ism, but Philadel­phia song­writer Kurt Vile still thank­fully sounds like a guy on a skate­board who tries to sell you a 10-bag after ask­ing for direc­tions. His dis­tinc­tive drawl sug­gests a some­what fugged mind, some­thing that the lyrics back up: on Bas­sack­wards, he’s do­ing a ra­dio show un­der the in­flu­ence of some­thing or other, say­ing of his co-host “I ap­pre­ci­ate him to the ut­most de­gree” with a stoner’s ironic gran­deur. On Hys­te­ria, he “took a drink of a dream smoothie / and all of a sud­den I’m feel­ing very loopy”. But if he’s high, he’s surf­ing a crys­talline state of amused, out­ward-fac­ing in­sight, rather than crash­ing into cata­tonic self-re­gard.

There’s a sturdy qual­ity to the neat, cute rep­e­ti­tions in his gui­tar back­ings, the bam­boo that the bindweed of his voice trails around, and while the drums still tread the same happy trudge, he adds some well-cho­sen new flavours. There’s mel­liflu­ous croon­ing on Rollin With the Flow, coun­try-soul back­ing on the beau­ti­ful One Trick Ponies, a rather men­ac­ing elec­tronic murk be­hind Check Baby; Cold Was the Wind, mean­while, puts the bong in the bon­gos. Best of all is his de­ci­sion to let four songs wan­der to­wards or be­yond the 10-minute mark – this am­pli­fies the bean-baggy vibe, and lets Vile’s idling po­etry re­ally find its slacker voice. It also al­lows room, on Skinny Mini, for two great gui­tar so­los, where jazzy im­pro­vi­sa­tion turns into big fuzz chords. Lesser mu­si­cians would make these songs as bor­ing as a drugs story you aren’t in­volved in, but Vile ul­ti­mately has such an in­stinc­tive fa­cil­ity for melodic logic that be­hind the shaggy locks and pur­ple haze, there’s a clear-headed, big-hearted song­writer at work.

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