Album Review: Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile - "Lotta Sea Lice"

Album Review: Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile -

By Ian Bremner/

Since the collaboration was announced, fans of Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett have been eagerly awaiting the results of such a dream pairing. If there were any pressures to deliver on such high expectations, their joint record, Lotta Sea Lice shows no signs of it. Though Vile and Barnett are indie-rock superstars, Lotta Sea Lice is less of an explosive supergroup effort, as much as it is two buddies jamming out, sharing tunes and creating new ones.

On paper, a CB-KV duo is a match made in heaven. They are obvious fans of each other and the chemistry is palpable. Both songwriters have histories of hard rock, folk tunes and the slyest of deadpan deliveries. Kurt and Courtney are the type of artists who could make a song about literally anything and make it sound interesting (Barnett has a song titled "3 Packs A Day," which is about Ramen noodles).

The project started simply as a joint single, but quickly turned into something more concrete. Nine tracks and 44 minutes later, Lotta Sea Lice is a combination platter of original tunes, covers, and taking turns singing each other’s songs. In a collection of highlights, Vile singing Barnett’s "Outta the Wordwork" and Courtney’s version of Kurt’s "Peepin’ Tom" perfectly highlight why these two work so well together.

Being endlessly touring musicians and living in Australia (Barnett) and Philadelphia (Vile), perhaps a musical microcosm of their relationship can be summed up in the song, "Continental Breakfast." Accompanied by perhaps the cutest video you will see, CB and KV trade lines about the simplicities of friendship across the globe. "I cherish my intercontinental friendships / we talk about it over continental breakfast / in a hotel in east bumble wherever / somewhere on the sphere around here."

While Lotta Sea Lice may not be the most complete project in terms of Barnett’s and Vile’s solo careers, it is absolutely a landmark in their respective catalogues. Two wildly talented friends simply playing music together goes a long way in warming the soul.

Check out some incredible photos by Jake Hanson from their recent Seattle stop HERE