It might sound like a strange collaboration, but Aussie Courtney Barnett, winner of the 2015 Album Of The Year poll here at God Is In The TV, and Kurt Vile, the slothlike Pennsylvanian, have created something here which sounds like they had an absolute BALL making.
Don’t let that opening paragraph mislead you, however, for you could never accuse Lotta Sea Lice of being a ‘party album’, far from it in fact. It’s just the musical equivalent of a beautiful friendship. The songs aren’t often upbeat. In fact, ‘Let It Go‘ (no, not that one) and ‘On Script‘ are ruefully bleary-eyed early morning songs, perhaps the result of an excessively hedonistic gathering at some festering student hellhole the night before. “What time do you usually wake up?” enquires Barnett, to which Vile matter-of-factly replies “Depends on what time I sleep,” set to the wooziest musical arrangement you could ever imagine. It works perfectly.
‘Fear Is Like A Forest‘ begins and ends like ’70s peak era Neil Young; you could easily imagine the Canadian rock legend covering this; while Kurt’s cowboy drawl on Courtney’s ‘Outta The Woodwork‘ eventually gives way and the track starts to resemble …Come Down era Dandy Warhols. Speaking of this track, not so long ago, there was a poll run by some rag or another to find the “most aesthetically pleasing vocal melody in a contemporary song”, which was won by The Righteous Brothers‘ opening line to ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’‘. Now, I’m not disputing that song’s greatness, but for my money, the segment in ‘…Woodwork‘ that runs “Climb up on the wagon when it comes on through/Climb up on your horse and tell me how’s the view,” runs it close at the very least.
The more wistful ‘Continental Breakfast‘, all pretty acoustic jangle, and especially the update of Kurt’s ‘Blue Cheese‘ are altogether more festive fare, the folksy “nanny nanny poo poo” line from the latter suggesting a playful spirit at play that calls to mind the likes of The Moldy Peaches, as does closing track ‘Untogether‘. Especially that one, actually, given that the opening line is “I was friendly with this girl who insisted on touching my face/She told outrageous stories/I believed them ’til the endings were changing from endings before/She’s not touching me anymore,” with the doubled up male/female vocals. That said, on the evidence of Lotta Sea Life as a whole, I doubt very much whether Vile is going to lose that “slacker” tag that has dogged (or perhaps, more likely, helped?) his entire career anytime soon!
I urge you to be please patient with this one. It’s a real slow burner, and quite delightful lyrically. I hope they look at doing a second instalment. It’s just tremendous fun.
Lotta Sea Lice is out now on Matador.