Kurt Vile: b’lieve I’m goin down…
Alternative & IndieRock
Few artists in today’s indie scene have as prolific a back catalogue as Kurt Vile. In the space of seven years, he’s managed to release six solo albums, six EPs, and two albums with his former band The War On Drugs (who received critical acclaim themselves with 2014’s instant classic Lost In the Dream). Suffice it say, Kurt Vile has cultivated a mystique around himself that makes every release a bonafide event on the musical calendar, and the complicatedly named release b’lieve I’m goin down… is part and parcel of that.
The album’s opener and debut single, ‘Pretty Pimpin’, is a bittersweet ode to Kurt’s youth, and is a damning indictment of the façade of “hip” that many indie artists have created. Singing “I woke up this morning/Didn’t recognize the man in the mirror/ Then I laughed and I said, Oh silly me, that’s just me”, you can really feel Vile’s dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the scene. The introduction of subtle synth tones towards the end of the track gives it an almost orchestral quality, undercutting the bluesy folk-style guitar rather nicely.
The album is interspersed with smatterings of soulful neo-Americana, with the album’s second track, ‘I’m An Outlaw’, sounding a little like a modern day Johnny Cash. The layering of banjo, guitar, and electric organ harkens back to the romantic notions of driving down Route 66 with the top down. The neo-Americana style doesn’t end there, with the later track ‘All in a Daze Work’ being one of the best songs released I’ve heard in a long time. Vile’s imperfect yet beautiful vocals dance with his guitar, telling the abstract story of a damaging former love. With long parts of the song being instrumental, the sparseness of the instrumentation and vocals is haunting to say the least.
That’s not to say that the album is unrelenting in its melancholy vibe. The next track, ‘Lost My Head’, shows some slight old-school r&b vibes, with piano taking the forefront instead of guitar, and a rising dreamy synth section in the middle, this track is a testament to the diversity of Vile’s inspiration and his musical versatility, sounding like something ‘The Moody Blues’ would have released in the 60s.
So remember what was said earlier about every Kurt Vile release being an event? Well the man doesn’t disappoint; this is easily one of the best albums of the year. Not a single moment, note, lyric or beat is wasted and all these things come together to create some incredible musical moments. I cannot say this clearly enough; listen to this album now. Listen to it, and then listen to it again.