Kurt Vile: b'lieve i'm goin down... (Matador) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, June 6th, 2020  

Kurt Vile

b’lieve i’m goin down…

Matador

Sep 25, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Smoke Ring for My Halo remains a lasting statement of purpose and Wakin on a Pretty Daze was a massively generous comfort blanket of an album, but with b'lieve i'm goin down..., Kurt Vile finally has gotten down to the essence of what he's been searching for since the beginning. Yet what he's found is something mutable and indefinable; these slowly unfurling songs are vast spaces Vile architected in order to give his wandering mind a place to sort itself out. More than ever, his words suggest a meditative river of thought, with stray ideas frequently branching out to form new channels. As Vile himself summarizes on the closing "Wild Imagination": "I'm afraid that I am feeling/Much too many feelings/Simultaneously, at such a rapid clip."

It's not easy to burrow this deeply inside oneself without succumbing to self-parody, but Vile's saving grace continues to be his knack for penning jokes that are colloquial in tone but cosmic in resonance (it's worth noting that "Dust Bunnies" references Americana soul-searchers Sam Cooke and The Band in the same couplet). Sonically, the close-miced finger-picking, mind-massaging synth drones, and Dark Side of the Moon-like keyboards are limpid and deliberate, providing a counterpoint to the lyrics' continuously shifting perspectives.

Throughout, Vile contends with the slippery nature of identity, waxes philosophic about cigarettes and pills, gets choked up over domesticity, and deconstructs his own rocker-bro persona. It's not so much an attempt to document an honest life as it is a search for what constitutes honest living in the first place. Maybe reducing the record to a "journey is the destination" message is unfair; however, that's just the sort of worn-out phrase Vile might casually drawl out of the corner of his mouth, only to refashion it into something idiosyncratically inquisitive and stumblinglyyet majesticallyhuman. (www.kurtvile.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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