Kurt Vile

B'lieve I'm Goin Down

Written by: BV on 26/10/2015 19:38:25

By now I’d wager most people have been able to pin a ’persona’ of sorts on Kurt Vile. He’s often characterized as that kind of quiet, easy-going slacker in the corner who rarely speaks – yet when he does, you find out he’s probably far more in tune with how things work than you’d ever really expect him to be. That persona also defines the vibe of his music – sometimes hazy and warm, other times dark and somewhat depressing, it often lures you in to the soundscapes drifting between folk, new-wave and “dad-rock” characterized by exquisite production and quality musicianship. “B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down” is Vile’s sixth studio album, following the widely acclaimed and, in my opinion, delightfully alluring “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze” – but with so many albums already released (with some to wide acclaim) it is intriguing to hear whether or not Vile is able to match up to past successes and continually move forward.

Album opener “Pretty Pimpin” certainly seems to get the album off to a fantastic start with an intricate arpeggio-guitar figure forming the foundation for the entirety of the track’s progression. Vile’s characteristic voice mumbles nuggets of wisdom regarding brief existential confusion. Lines like; “Then he woke up this morning / Didn’t recognize the boy in the mirror / Then laughed and said, ‘Oh silly me, that’s just me’ / Then I proceeded to brush some stranger’s teeth / But they were my teeth, and I was weightless / Just quivering like some leaf come in the window of a restroom”, show off Vile’s strange and enticing sense of humor and his perspective on feeling of personal estrangement I’m more than certain most of us have had to deal with at one time in our lives or another.

Musically “B’lieve I’m Goin Down” seems to be something of a counterpart to “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day”. In a seemingly crude division, “Wakin’…” can easily be described as a daylight-driven album with feelings of ecstasy and joy scattered over most of it, save for select passages, where “B’lieve I’m Goin Down” is more of a venture into the night – which is strangely fitting, as the album was allegedly mostly recorded during night sessions at various studios. “That’s Life, Tho (Almost Hate to Say)” is finger-picking driven and quite similar in mood and progression to Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”. Where it differs is the weirdly introspective lyrics and the low-key vocals that have come to characterize Vile’s musical persona. Lines like; “When I go out I take pills to take the edge off or to just take a chillax, forget about it / Just another certified badass out for a night on the town” will inevitably come off as almost cringe-worthy if just read aloud from the page, but in the context of the almost doom-laden music backing it, it comes off as quite humorous but still in a somewhat tragic setting – hinting at the inevitably duality of life.

On instrumental passages like “Bad Omens” Vile fares far less successfully, as they often times conjure up imagery of the night in a less than desirable way when it comes to the context of an album. These instrumental interludes are smooth and gorgeous sounding, but in the grand scheme of things they come off more like lullabies than anything else – eventually hindering the progress of an otherwise meticulously crafted and cared for sonic experience.

What Vile lacked on “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day” has seemingly been incorporated into “B’lieve I’m Goin Down” – now it just so happens that some of the elements that made “Wakin’…” such a terrific album, namely the sunny vibes, have all but vanished in the context of a much darker album. In any case one cannot claim that Kurt Vile lacks progression in terms of song-writing or musical arrangements - that would simply be too far-fetched.

Download: All in a Daze Work; Pretty Pimpin; That’s Life, Tho (Almost Hate to Say it)
For the fans of: The War on Drugs, Mac DeMarco, Amen Dunes
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.09.2015
Matador Records

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