Release Date: Oct 12, 2018
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Thankfully, it turns out that he's taken the album back a step, back into the more atmospheric mode he was in on Smoke Ring For My Halo. It's a lot more laid-back (who'd have thought that was possible?) than his last couple of solo records, and there's nothing even remotely similar to his biggest 'hit' "Pretty Pimpin'". This is an album that focuses on the vibe, built around relaxation, whimsy and more than a hint of humour.
The intensely mellow yet rather obsessive compulsive character of Kurt Vile's songs is summed up well in the first track from Bottle It In. Loading Zones describes the habit of driving round town and parking in the titular short stay bays so as to avoid ever having to pay for parking. “I park for free!” he shouts, and the line's ardent delivery belies its banality.
Download | Listen and subscribe via Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | Radio Public | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: After following up an improbable AAA #1 single (2015’s “Pretty Pimpin”) with a collaborative record with Courtney Barnett, reigning king of slacker rock Kurt Vile returns with his first solo record in three years, one recorded in fits and starts during two years in which Vile became a Jeopardy! answer, opened for Neil Young, and suffered a self-described mental breakdown. The Good: Originally scheduled for a Spring release, Bottle It In's October arrival feels like fate; marrying Vile’s languid whatever’s-clever-ism with reflections on aging, success, and the possibilities of happiness, the record exudes the same subtle gloom shared by that first fall day when the sun sets before six p. m.
Nestled into Side A of Kurt Vile's seventh solo album, Bottle It In, is "Bassackwards," 10 minutes of warped, psychedelic folk-rock, like a long sigh in the face of existential dread. Some songwriters seek wisdom in their aimlessness--reflecting on what they could have done better, trying to pinpoint what went wrong. But there's no moral to Vile's story; he wallows, unapologetically.
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.
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.
Following the dusky wandering of 2015's B'lieve I'm Goin Down... and the sometimes cloying 2017 Courtney Barnett collaboration Lotta Sea Lice, restless workingman Kurt Vile looked to his time in transit for his seventh album, Bottle It In. The songs here were recorded over the course of two years in various studios and locations across the U.S., and Vile assembled them between tours and road-trip vacations with his family.
For Kurt Vile fans, the eager wait between his releases must be calm and reassured, devoid of suspense or nervousness about any potential switching of styles or change of approach . Not only one of the most consistent performers in indie rock, he's also very much on a stylistic plateau - offering little change of note between album cycles but never really disappointing anyone who's already satisfied by his swooning, melodic stoner indie rock. While 2015's b'lieve I'm goin down… may have been one of his decidedly weaker records (lyrically far drabber and tailing off around the two-thirds point), it still largely kept up with his happy-go-lucky aesthetic and groovy, Americana-infused spangly rock.
Though this album is titled 'Bottle It In', on it, Kurt Vile does anything but. He's at his most personal here, cataloguing a journey that was recorded over the course of two and a half years. Inventive and innovative while still overflowing with the wholesome charm of his sound, it's rooted in themes of anxiety, existential fear and vulnerability. His signature guitar sound is complemented by an array of instruments that push his Americana folk past its genre boundaries, with his wry lyrics, as ever, the focal point - though with an added depth of personal exposure.
O n 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.
P laying 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".
Like his former band the War on Drugs, Philadelphia singer-songwriter Kurt Vile takes basic classic-rock influences (Springsteen, Petty, etc.) and molds them into a distinct, original sound. Yet while War on Drugs frontman Adam Granduciel's best songs are fueled by an intense longing for connection and meaning, Vile favors a far chiller approach, lingering on life's small moments while shaking his head in disbelief at his good fortune. That reputation as the most Zen dude in rock can make Vile easy to take for granted, and on his new album "Bottle It In," out Friday, he doesn't exactly bust a gut trying to win over the unconverted.
After last year's collaboration with Courtney Barnett, 'Lotta Sea Lice', here we have an album about, among other things, journeys, contingencies, aviophobia and family. It's delivered with instinctive playfulness, the lyrics rolling off Kurt Vile's loose tongue with ease. On 'Bassackwards', he seems to be channelling Jonathan Richman at his most whimsical.