Kurt Vile - Bottle It In

80

The Guardian

(Matador Records)

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 you 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 (even if, on Mutinies, he bashfully admits to popping pills to shut up the voices in his head).

Continue reading...

Fri Oct 12 10:00:25 CEST 2018

80

The Guardian

(Matador)

On Kurt Vile’s seventh solo album, he covers Charlie Rich’s Rollin With the Flow. As song titles go, it’s as good a description as any of this Philadelphia native’s modus operandi. Without fail, the songs on Bottle It In unfurl in a leisurely fashion, recalling by turns Neil Young at his most free range and Pavement’s way with a skew-whiff melody, with Vile laconically drawling verses that sometimes sound as if they’ve been improvised on the spot over the top of gently meandering guitar solos. The centrepiece is Bassackwards, the combination of hypnotic interlocking acoustic guitar riffs and stoner poetry lyrics seemingly over too soon, even at nine minutes.

Elsewhere, the gorgeous Loading Zones opens proceedings with an early REM jangle and a lyric about Vile’s meter-evading, oblique parking strategy: “One-stop shop life for the quick fix before you get a ticket/ That’s the way I live my life/ I park for free”. Check Baby locks into a more muscular groove; Skinny Mini benefits from washes of artfully deployed distortion.

Continue reading...

Sun Oct 14 09:00:16 CEST 2018

70

Tiny Mix Tapes

Kurt Vile
Bottle It In

[Matador; 2018]

Rating: 3.5/5

Kurt Vile has a strangely neutralizing way about him. The casual demeanor and nonchalant delivery of his song lyrics possess the ability to temper the profound to the prosaic, and to elevate the inconsequential to the noteworthy. Through him, crises turn to mere botherations, and annoyances rise to the rank of bona fide gripes. In short, Vile’s perspective maintains a certain equalizing property. We see this in 2015’s “Pretty Pimpin’,” wherein the song’s protagonist suffers the Kafkaesque indignity of waking up in someone else’s body only to find that weekdays have lost all discernible meaning and, worse yet, that the two men share the same grooming habits. Filtered through Vile’s distant half-drawl, these two revelations feel equally jarring and likewise irrelevant. “Pimpin’,” like so much of b’lieve i’m goin’ down, utilizes a muscular rhythm section and resolutely finger-picked guitar to apply a sense of direction to Kurt’s otherwise aimless vocals and lyrics.

But on Bottle It In, Vile’s seventh solo album, the singer’s surreal, dreamlike lyrics seem to pull away from his backing band’s alt-country orientation. There’s “Hysteria,” which owes some lyrical debt to Pixies’ “La La Love You” and includes lines about a man contracting rabies from his admirer and later jumping out of an airborne plane. Both songs use humor to undercut the fact that at the heart of these tunes is a genuine romantic suggestion, but in Vile’s case, the band’s metronomic drum machine and smoke-clouded atmosphere detract from the ostensible tongue-in-cheek tone of the song. “Check Baby” features a domineering synth track and hardass guitars to propel Vile’s standoffish voice, even while he uses turns of phrase like “What a whale of a pickle” or “We run like chickens from dickens.” And yet for all the incongruity here, it’s Kurt’s blasé delivery that works to compromise the rift between music and lyrics. He doesn’t care about the imbalance, so why should we?

However, Bottle’s more serious lyrics create a consonance between sound and sentiment that rivals some of Vile’s previous highs. “The mutinies in my head keep staying/ I take pills and pills to try and make them go away,” he explains on “Mutinies” with the defeated contrition of Isaac Brock on a more reflective Modest Mouse song. On the sparse “Cold Was the Wind,” Vile confesses over a bed of unnerving static: “On the plane, I’m drinking red wine/ ‘Cause like everybody else, I’m afraid to die/ Did I mention that I’m afraid of dying?” Here we see Vile wrestling with the rock & roll trope that claimed Buddy Holly and Ronnie Van Zant: the legendary death via airplane. But he walks back rock’s obsession with life’s ephemerality and death’s permanence, instead mollifying himself with a glass of pinot (not hard liquor or pills, as other famously doomed rockers would have preferred). On Bottle It In, Vile has learned how to strike a balance between anxious survivalism and detached fatalism.

The hallowed paradigm of drums-bass-acoustic guitar carries with it an implacable stoicism, which is why genres like country and folk are so easy to parody. There’s an assumed dignity to it, and for Kurt Vile to use this platform to voice his slacker grievances feels almost irreverent. But here on Bottle, he expands his arsenal to push the joke farther. We hear marimbas on “One Trick Ponies” and sci-fi synths on the closing instrumental “(bottle back).” This is an exercise in experimentation, safe though it may be, that compromises neither Vile’s nor his band’s pointed vision of windswept alternative folk. The album’s second half becomes noticeably more lo-fi as it draws to a close, with the band laying down instrumental nebulas into which Vile allows his voice to languidly recline. It’s a hazy ending to a bear of an album, but one that rewards those who stuck with it through the 80 or so minutes. But the paradox continues: Vile’s never sounded more like he’s had nothing to say, which is why it’s never felt more important that we listen.

Fri Oct 12 06:05:27 CEST 2018

70

Drowned In Sound

It’s hard to get a read on Kurt Vile. The 38-year-old guitarist and singer can seem so out chilled as to be practically horizontal but then sings about various mental issues and having a dark psyche. He constantly makes jokey asides and ad libs throughout his latest record and at the same time sings about loneliness and a fear of death. He claims to seek fame and a wider audience for his music but then produces and album with three songs pushing ten minutes.

Like most of us, Vile is filled with contradictions, but in spite of these, is still able to produce an album that can claim authenticity as its most appealing quality. Despite singing: “computer in my hand exploding, I think things were way easier with a regular telephone” he hasn’t made an album to appease dwindling attention spans. Instead, he has produced a 66-minute epic that is closer to the music Vile wants to make than anything that could be accused of trying to appeal to the masses. For example, lead single ‘Loading Zones’ is essentially a caricature of an idyllic life whose central tenant seems to be the ability to “park for free”. Almost all of the 13 tracks on this seventh studio record contain lengthy guitar solos, and some – like veritable closer ‘Skinny Mini’ – break down into downright jam tracks before they reach their conclusion.

There are parts to Bottle It In that don’t work, but then any record that pushes the hour mark is always going to contain some alienating elements. However, there is much more of this record that does. ‘Cold Was the Wind’ pushes Vile into Springsteen/Cohen territory with expansive dream imagery and atmospheric that sounds like the great outdoors feel. ‘Check Baby’ is in its essence an Eighties hair metal stomp that shouldn’t work but somehow lulls you in over the course of its runtime. And ‘Come Again’ sees Vile reunited with his first love for some general musings on life and reincarnation.

Despite claiming to want to churn out hit singles – his debut LP was called Constant Hitmaker after all – the former War On Drugs guitarist has filled his latest record with obscure references and in jokes. Fans of Vile will undoubtedly swoon over these and new listeners are likely to be charmed by a persona that is at times oddball and others darkly mysterious. It’s this latter quality, and the ability to hint at something without showing the full picture, that is part of Vile’s enduring appeal.

Overall, you’re left the impression of an artist genuinely expressing themselves. It may not be his Born In The USA – despite what Vile claims – but Bottle It In ultimately succeeds in its intentions and further escalates Vile’s reputation as part of a rare breed of authentic songwriters. And that’s alright for now.

![105879](http://dis.resized.images.s3.amazonaws.com/540x310/105879.jpeg)

Wed Oct 10 09:37:00 CEST 2018

70

Pitchfork

The ranging album from the Philadelphia songwriter adopts a drifting mind as its emotional compass. There’s no rush to get where he’s going, and he rarely checks to see if you’re still following along.

Fri Oct 12 07:00:00 CEST 2018

70

Tiny Mix Tapes

Kurt Vile
Bottle It In

[Matador; 2018]

Rating: 3.5/5

Kurt Vile has a strangely neutralizing way about him. The casual demeanor and nonchalant delivery of his song lyrics possess the ability to temper the profound to the prosaic, and to elevate the inconsequential to the noteworthy. Through him, crises turn to mere botherations, and annoyances rise to the rank of bona fide gripes. In short, Vile’s perspective maintains a certain equalizing property. We see this in 2015’s “Pretty Pimpin’,” wherein the song’s protagonist suffers the Kafkaesque indignity of waking up in someone else’s body only to find that weekdays have lost all discernible meaning and, worse yet, that the two men share the same grooming habits. Filtered through Vile’s distant half-drawl, these two revelations feel equally jarring and likewise irrelevant. “Pimpin’,” like so much of b’lieve i’m goin’ down, utilizes a muscular rhythm section and resolutely finger-picked guitar to apply a sense of direction to Kurt’s otherwise aimless vocals and lyrics.

But on Bottle It In, Vile’s seventh solo album, the singer’s surreal, dreamlike lyrics seem to pull away from his backing band’s alt-country orientation. There’s “Hysteria,” which owes some lyrical debt to Pixies’ “La La Love You” and includes lines about a man contracting rabies from his admirer and later jumping out of an airborne plane. Both songs use humor to undercut the fact that at the heart of these tunes is a genuine romantic suggestion, but in Vile’s case, the band’s metronomic drum machine and smoke-clouded atmosphere detract from the ostensible tongue-in-cheek tone of the song. “Check Baby” features a domineering synth track and hardass guitars to propel Vile’s standoffish voice, even while he uses turns of phrase like “What a whale of a pickle” or “We run like chickens from dickens.” And yet for all the incongruity here, it’s Kurt’s blasé delivery that works to compromise the rift between music and lyrics. He doesn’t care about the imbalance, so why should we?

However, Bottle’s more serious lyrics create a consonance between sound and sentiment that rivals some of Vile’s previous highs. “The mutinies in my head keep staying/ I take pills and pills to try and make them go away,” he explains on “Mutinies” with the defeated contrition of Isaac Brock on a more reflective Modest Mouse song. On the sparse “Cold Was the Wind,” Vile confesses over a bed of unnerving static: “On the plane, I’m drinking red wine/ ‘Cause like everybody else, I’m afraid to die/ Did I mention that I’m afraid of dying?” Here we see Vile wrestling with the rock & roll trope that claimed Buddy Holly and Ronnie Van Zant: the legendary death via airplane. But he walks back rock’s obsession with life’s ephemerality and death’s permanence, instead mollifying himself with a glass of pinot (not hard liquor or pills, as other famously doomed rockers would have preferred). On Bottle It In, Vile has learned how to strike a balance between anxious survivalism and detached fatalism.

The hallowed paradigm of drums-bass-acoustic guitar carries with it an implacable stoicism, which is why genres like country and folk are so easy to parody. There’s an assumed dignity to it, and for Kurt Vile to use this platform to voice his slacker grievances feels almost irreverent. But here on Bottle, he expands his arsenal to push the joke farther. We hear marimbas on “One Trick Ponies” and sci-fi synths on the closing instrumental “(bottle back).” This is an exercise in experimentation, safe though it may be, that compromises neither Vile’s nor his band’s pointed vision of windswept alternative folk. The album’s second half becomes noticeably more lo-fi as it draws to a close, with the band laying down instrumental nebulas into which Vile allows his voice to languidly recline. It’s a hazy ending to a bear of an album, but one that rewards those who stuck with it through the 80 or so minutes. But the paradox continues: Vile’s never sounded more like he’s had nothing to say, which is why it’s never felt more important that we listen.

Fri Oct 12 06:05:27 CEST 2018