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Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett's new collaborative album is the soundtrack of the fall. (photo via @kurtvile Instagram)

Album review: Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile prove to be indie-power duo on ‘Lotta Sea Lice’

There are certain albums that are meant to be listened to during autumn. Every year, it feels like music lovers cannot wait to spend some time basking in the crisp air in their favorite sweater while they make huge Spotify playlists of all of their favorite songs. And if indie rock fans needed a new album to soundtrack their trips to pumpkin patches, they should look no further than indie-power duo Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. 

The two released their first collaborative album, Lotta Sea Lice, on Friday. The 9-track LP channels the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll past, but is extremely relatable for young people in 2017. 

The lead single from the album, “Over Everything,” which was released Aug. 30, is a standout track that sets the tone of the album. “Over Everything,” along with the fifth track “Continental Breakfast,” are the strongest tracks on the album. The songs show both of their vocal and guitar skills in such a quintessential way that sets the album apart from other artists today. 

Vile channels the vocals of Pavement lead singer Stephen Malkmus with the guitar playing of Neil Young. Barnett sounds like a female Lou Reed who is writing songs from her bedroom for people to listen to while chilling in their own bedrooms. Their vocals and guitar playing styles both compliment and contrast each other in a way that makes it easy to listen to the album on repeat. 

On many songs, it sounds like the two are having a conversation while strumming aimlessly on their guitars. Sometimes it’s just Barnett singing and Vile replying to her, but when they harmonize, it sounds like something special. In “Continental Breakfast,” the two sing the lines “I walk like a bruised ego along shorefront property un-owned to me/ But I'm feelin' inferior on the interior don't ya see” to one another in a sing-songy way. The verse eventually transitions into the harmonious chorus which put together sounds nothing short of magical. 

The genre is undoubtedly indie-rock, but with hints of folk, country and even a little bit of shoegaze. Songs like “Outta the Woodwork” and “Blue Cheese” echo sounds of old, stripped down Fleetwood Mac songs.

Some of the lyrics of the album show off the tremendous songwriting skills between Vile and Barnett. The opening lines to “On Script” are “On script every night/ Like a well-rehearsed stage show/ Wet your lips, it won’t take long/ To break this ode to hate and love.” The heartfelt lyrics sung by two people who don’t express a lot of emotion in their voices add to the impact of the words. 

Lotta See Lice is the autumnal album fans didn’t know they needed. The duo of Vile and Barnett just makes perfect sense. The two have displayed they are some of the strongest musicians in indie music right now. In a sea of artists in the genre who sound relatively similar often times, Vile and Barnett have found a way to stand out and above the rest. 

Rating: 4.5/5 


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