Record review: Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin Down (2015, LP)

kurt vile b'lieve im goin down

Just like certain actors being cast in a film almost guarantees it’ll a good one, there are a small number of musicians whose albums you won’t ever have to worry about being sub-par. Kurt Vile is one: he has released five solo albums of the most tip-top indie-rock and folk since co-founding, and subsequently leaving, the War on Drugs in 2008. The 35 year-old Philadelphian’s problem, then, is maintaining the almost impossibly high standards he has set for himself, but it’s a task he sets about with typically laidback ease on this solid 12-track effort. While no wheels are reinvented or new ground broken, the warm and hazy embrace of Vile’s gently-rolling indie-Americana is as welcoming as ever, and it’s a very good thing that he hasn’t done a Kevin Parker and gone electro-pop. First single ‘Pretty Pimpin’ is just that, while ‘I’m an Outlaw’ is banjo-pickin’ good. Vile’s melancholia is never far off, and it raises its heavy eyelids first in ‘That’s Life, Tho (Almost Hate to Say)’; in which he sings of “taking pills to take the edge off”, while the equally downbeat ‘All in a Daze Work’ features the obligatory day/daze pun long-time fans will recognise. A perennially underrated guitar player, Vile is more often praised for the high standard of craftsmanship of his songs and indie-stoner vibe, but there’s magic in these licks that demands respect. Six albums in and Kurt Vile is still somewhat of a cult figure; can we keep him that way, please?

For Beat

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