Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice

Lotta Sea Lice is a joyful, ambling product of two connected creative minds

Album Review by Claire Francis | 16 Oct 2017
Album title: Lotta Sea Lice
Artist: Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile
Label: Marathon Artists / Matador
Release date: 13 Oct

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more compatible musical pairing than Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. Barnett pairs lackadaisical delivery with sharp observations of modern life (case in point, her country/grunge hybrid ballad Depreston, which tackles gentrification of a Melbourne suburb), while Vile coats hazy existential ruminations in layers of reverb-laden rock (Pretty Pimpin is a pedal-driven foray through a crisis of confidence in front of a bathroom mirror). Even Vile’s nasally American twang is the perfect counterpart to Barnett’s languid Aussie drawl.

The two good pals are also very funny, albeit in a dry, understated way, and that languid, oddball humour is a driving part of Lotta Sea Lice (there’s that album title, for a start). Opener Over Everything is a jangly, six-minute duet that has the pair trading lines and confessing the quirks of their songwriting processes. Their ‘intercontinental friendship’ is immortalised via Continental Breakfast, and Vile’s Blue Cheese lives up to its name via this suitably swaggering, cheesy ode to a 'weed dealer named Tina'. In fact, this album works best paired with a sofa, a smoke, and a cup of tea.

Random subjects abound, but the musicianship is on point (helped along by a couple of guest appearances from members of The Dirty Three). Covers also reveal the record’s emotional depth – Barnett delivers a stark rendering of Vile’s Peepin’ Tomboy, and the duo close out with a bittersweet take on Belly’s Untogether. Barnett and Vile have managed to perfectly sync up their idiosyncrasies; Lotta Sea Lice is a joyful, ambling product of two connected creative minds.

Listen To: Over Everything, Blue Cheese, Untogether