b’lieve i’m goin down… is album number six from troubadour Kurt Vile. What he has for us is a rich new collection of twelve songs, a kind of country-indie-rock that Vile is obviously extremely comfortable making. CD and 2LP editions, and also available as a triple-LP with six extra tracks, titled believe I’m goin (deep) down...
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Here it is, then: Kurt Vile’s new record, ‘b’lieve i’m goin down..’, also known as ‘zzzzhhmmmmmmlalaasleeeeeeepinOnaBedcigarette’ or ‘uhhhhhhhhhhh?????????cloudsarecoffee’. I don’t know if Kurt Vile is aware that there’s a new Kurt Vile record out, but he’s gone and written one: twelve songs long, it contains a couple stringent indie rock anthems, scrounged for between meandering guitar pick-n-stabs that will be cosily familiar to any fan of his storied career as a chillwave Neil Young.
Quality control has never been Vile’s strong point, but neither has quantity, and that’s a dangerous combo: there are threads of this album that feel almost entirely inaccessible, as if Vile is just seeing how far he can elongate retreads of old songs. He bleeds his way from “I’m An Outlaw” into the endless hum of “That’s Life, Tho” (which sounds like a weightless retread of the gorgeous personal stories of “Too Much”), occasionally offering hooks but mostly just slithering through absent-minded plucks. It’s like a long dusty hike with no water, the occasional moment of respite granted almost by accident -- even then, though, I really never want to hear “Dust Bunnies” again, a track whose energising chord sequence is ruined by Vile’s squaked upward- inflections.
I’m going in negative, but Vile remains, a slither of the time, one of my absolute favourite sleeper-songwriters: typically shit name aside, “Pretty Pimpin” is a slice of folk rock magic. It’s an emotional oxymoron of a song -- Vile is testing himself, between the fret slides, to find a sweet spot between desperation and reassurance. Take this example from the very first line of the record: “I woke up this morning, didn’t recognise the man in the mirror / then I laughed and said, oh silly me, that’s just me”. It’s typical of Vile to point at his own existentialism, then laugh it off, but here he does it within strict melodic confines that make it sound genuinely fearsome.
Beyond this eerie anthem, there are signs of a different Vile entirely on the record’s second half, on which he pens a piano-led jam that sounds like Beirut with the excess sunshine cut out (“Lost My Head there”, whose motifs recur until some level of psychedelic hypnosis has been achieved). On “Bad Omens”, our dude thumbs more chords out at his piano in a stilled-tempo instrumental that imagines Nils Frahm getting Lost In The Dream. These are brief signs of a Vile who’s almost road-testing his style on different aesthetic choices, but he soon returns to his cosy guitar picks, trudging through “Kidding Round” before offering another retread, “Wild Imagination”, a sombre counterpart to the shuffling, lightly brushed “Gold Tone”.
The album dies like it lives: utterly weightless. That first glimpse of life? That’s the Kurt I’m pining to hear about.
9/10 Telguapo Customer review, 7th July 2017
Hi I'm not Kurt Vile, I never even Liked War On Drugs, I'm listening to this, thinking it's pretty laid back cool, and I like the fact it meanders, not much meanders these days, apart from The National ( but not in a cool way ). It's a record, it's one of those black shiny vinyl things, you know, it's got some awesome guitar tunes on it. You could put it on, sit back on the rockin chair on the porch, get out the banjo, and maybe play along.... Get yourself a drink, kick back, use your wild imagination, and sweep up them dust bunnies. There are squares out there who say it's just too much meandering, don't listen to this un hip four sided nonsense, it's a big country scene, it's like Gregory Peck rode into view on a horse, and then lit up a cigarette and blew some smoke rings round the Rockies. You should buy it, it's meandering qualities are what life's all about.
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