Dork Radio
Now playing:
In the mag...
Featuring Maggie Rogers, Sundara Karma, Kurt Vile and more.
Order a copy
November 2018
Review

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice

Barnett and Vile have created something which both lives up to and confounds expectations.
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice
Published: 9:11 pm, October 11, 2017
Barnett and Vile have created something which both lives up to and confounds expectations.

Label: Marathon Artists/ Matador/ Milk! Recordings/ Mom & Pop
Released: 13th October 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Given the not-exactly-frantic pace of the pair’s own output - Kurt Vile’s drawling, ragged jams; Courtney Barnett’s shaggy-dog rambles - their songs frequently stretching out over 6 to 7 minute chunks of wax, you’d be forgiven for expecting their collaboration on ‘Lotta Sea Lice’ - backed by members of the Dirty Three and Warpaint and former Bad Seed Mick Harvey - to be a near-horizontally slack alliance, barely able to pull itself together enough to hit record.

But it’s obvious from ‘Over Everything’ - the first song to come out of the pairing - that the partnership is a fruitful one. While the song lopes along as sunnily as you might expect, the two trade tips on songwriting habits - “I speed-read the morning news and come up with my own little song” - and whether it’s a good idea to wear earplugs (hint: yes). Even the extended outro noodles never quite lose focus nor outstay their welcome.

And ‘welcome’ is the right word for an album like this: open-hearted and warm, with charm to spare. The two’s mutual admiration hits you straight away - Vile has called Barnett’s ‘Depreston’ an “instant classic” (he’s not wrong), while Courtney has said working with Kurt pulled her out of a songwriting rut. Their hometowns might be 10,000 miles apart but there’s a clear kinship which makes songs like ‘Let It Go’ - written by Barnett after Vile sent her ‘Over Everything’ - such a balm, and lifts the breezy, but slight ‘Blue Cheese’ out of throwaway territory.

There are slightly mixed results when the pair cover each other: Vile’s ‘Outta The Woodwork’ sheds the haunted, desperate feel for a ponderous country-blues, losing something in the process, but Barnett’s ‘Peepin’ Tom’ takes the same tumbling guitar figures as the original but piles on fragility.

But on the likes of ‘On Script’ - a fuzzy crawl, led by Barnett, about breaking cycles of negative behaviour, and particularly their duet on a cover of Belly’s gorgeous, resignatory ‘Untogether’ - wistful, with sleepy, sighing pedal steel - Barnett and Vile have created something which both lives up to and confounds expectations. Rob Mesure

Give all this a try

Listen to The 1975's latest banger, 'It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)'
Listen

Listen to The 1975's latest banger, 'It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)'

The latest cut from 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships' is here.
LANY: Gotta get thru this
Feature

LANY: Gotta get thru this

Break ups are tough, right? LANY’s Paul Klein takes life’s shitty moments and turns them into solid gold bangers.
Parcels: Signed, sealed, delivered
Feature

Parcels: Signed, sealed, delivered

Berlin-based Australian five-piece Parcels will have you heading straight for the dancefloor.
Basement: “Sometimes you need to check yourself and appreciate what you have”
Feature

Basement: “Sometimes you need to check yourself and appreciate what you have”

Vocalist Andrew Fisher offers up a glimpse into the inner-workings of the band’s new record.
Like this? Subscribe to Dork and get every issue delivered direct to your door anywhere on the planet.
CONTACT PRIVACY ADVERTISE

© 2018 The Bunker Publishing