Review: Lotta Sea Lice by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile

Lotta Sea Lice by Courtney Barnett and Kurt VileEarly into Lotta Sea Lice – an unexpected collaboration between Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – I found myself going back to another relatively recent collaboration album, that of Adam Green and Binki Shapiro. There was a comfort in that record, although perhaps it’s partly down to the decision to mine some polished version of lush 60s folk pop. I’ll admit that realization happened during a moment when the two singers – he, incredibly laid back; she, incredibly detailed – had some harmonies going on. “Wow, this is something.” It’s an unlikely record, yet it’s an incredibly enjoyable one. Both played up to each other’s strengths and actually delivered a collaboration record where it’s not two people putting things together and hoping something sticks. It’s like they have been working together for decades, like their music have influenced each other all this time. Listen to how effortless they cover each other’s songs (I barely recognized Kurt’s take on Courtney’s “Out of the Woodwork”, from A Sea of Split Peas – it languished nicely) or songs from others (there’s an inevitable sweetness to Courtney’s take on “Fear Is Like A Forest”, from her wife Jen Cloher). But the best part is when they take each other’s sensibilities and just meld, even if it’s a song about writing songs. In its sweet, meandering pace, Lotta Sea Lice is a thrill. [NB]4/5

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