Album Review: Kurt Vile - B'lieve I'm Goin Down...

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Sporting a flowing mane and detached cool, Philadelphia's Kurt Vile didn't really "hit" the scene per se, more like he "eased" into it.

Originally part of the buzz-worthy band The War On Drugs, Vile's languid guitar lines and humble speakeasy vocal style instantly set him apart.

As momentum grew for The War On Drugs, Vile did the perfect "slacker" move, and split amicably with the band before the success could really take hold.

While The War On Drugs are currently wowing the industry with their latest album Lost In A Dream, Vile is comfortable to be on his own, slowly amassing a rich catalogue of solo albums. Where The War On Drugs have smoothed out their heartland-meets-space rock, Vile's work remains happily removed from any certain scene.

Vile began as an introverted teen spending hours recording home 4-track demos and that same ceaseless experimentation is something present on every album he has released.

Vile's new album B'lieve I'm Goin Down...

out September 25th on Matador Records seems like a perfect encapsulation of all the different flavors he and his band offers.

There are moments of stark, acoustic beauty that resemble his 2011 breakthrough Smoke Ring For My Halo like "All In A Daze Work" and "That's Life, Tho (Almost Hate To Say)." There are moments of reckless, messy rock that would have easily fit on Matador Records roster in 1995 like "Dust Bunnies" and "I'm An Outlaw."

One of the many standouts is the hilariously titled "Pretty Pimpin," an actual bid for hit single status. With a Tom Petty-esque jangly riff and lyrics like "I woke up this morning didn't recognize the man in the mirror, then I laughed and said, oh silly me, that's just me," Vile delivers a super-catchy melody with a humorous, singular lyric that only he can get away with.

The music video is perfect. Multiple Kurt Vile's are hanging out around his house, looking out the kitchen window with a certain glassy eyed contemplation.

His band never tries to steal attention. Drummer Stella Mozgowa keeps time with a firey persistence, but never hogs the spotlight.

The certain focal point of most of these new songs are the lyrics.

Where, say, Mark Kozelek tries to paint a picture by loading in hundreds of words and details per minute, Vile slowly and happily paints a scene like a veritable indie Bob Ross.

Packed with New Age ennui like "The laws of physics have shown that a man must walk through life via peaks and valleys" sometimes the listener gets a feeling that Kurt is in on the joke.

"Find a temple to bask in the glory of, roll around on the floor of furry carpet there, sleep soundly for the first time in forever, and breathe in deep and sigh," is one of those head-scratchers that is simultaneously funny and poignant.

Kurt Vile's sound brings back that moment in mid 90's when grunge was losing it's favor and homemade, experimental, detached music like Beck, Sonic Youth, Guided By Voices and Pavement were all gaining momentum. At the same time he heralds a nice return to the singer-songwriter trend of the 1970's, as most every song on here would hold up in a solo voice-and-acoustic-guitar live setting.

B'Lieve I'm Goin Down, from it's oddly spelled title, to the plain jane Kurt-with-guitar album cover, finds Vile finally putting himself out there with a collection of songs that best sums up what he offers the world.

Turns out he may not be going down at all.

For more on Kurt Vile


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