By Matt Rocke.
Kurt Vile – Bottle It In (Matador/Remote Control)
America is great again? No thanks to Capital Hill. But Kurt Vile’s new record, ‘Bottle it In’ could just be an antidote to the craziness. A dose of hazy realism to remind us, come what may, American music is the gold dust of the Great Republic.
Kurt Vile cuts a ‘morning after the night before’ figure on the cover art, but don’t be fooled, his seventh studio album is peak form. He and his Violators deliver twelve new tracks, four of which are well over seven minutes in duration; consequently, the album lasts an entire V/Line journey arriving in at 1 hour 18 minutes.
It’s been a while for Vile. Late night sessions from 2015’s ‘B’leive I’m Going Down’ gave way to sweet collaborations with Courtney Barnett in 2017, the same year former band buddies The War on Drugs released A Deeper Understanding, one of the best records of this decade. At almost 40 years of age, Kurt Vile’s lyrics can be equally substantial, as well as comedic gibberish, rapper’s delights and rock ‘n’ roll abandon.
Bottle it In has been recorded east coast to west and parts in between. The musicianship is first class and the recordings capture the minutiae of sting, twang and slide of hand. Vile’s vocal mode is characteristically spoken and sung in classic Philly style throughout. The letter L is swallowed up, vowels are stretched and words run together. The language is cute, slipping and squirming and creeping around. The album opener ‘Loading Zones’ is bang on.
By cut three we’re into almost REM like melodic trance. Tracking further in there’s serious respect paid to the late Tom Petty on ‘One Trick Ponies’ and by association, George Harrison on ‘Rollin with the Flow’. The album then breaks apart on ‘Check Baby’ with a forceful, dark, distorted guitar attack that reminds us rock has raw power.
The title track, ‘Bottle it In’ is trip-hoppy and sets up the neo lo fi melancholia that follows. ‘Come Again’ is a highlight with banjo plucking and delightful backing vocals from Lucius (Jess Wolf & Holly Laessig).
Kurt Vile likes his music to be organic, the outcome of confluence and collaborative magic. He’s found it. The album’s closer, ‘Skinny Mini’ is a sweeping, cosmic odyssey showcasing Vile and his bands brilliance of range and rage.
Put this release in your pipe and smoke it! Better still, see Kurt Vile and the Violators In Australia next April.