Courtney Barnett, the Melbourne indie-rock singer capable of turning such topics as real estate and elevator chitchat into droll, heartrending parables, was having trouble coming up with the follow-up to her sensational 2015 debut. Kurt Vile, the Philadelphia folkie whose free-ranging drawl and sparkling guitar lines can improve any afternoon, sent her a partly finished song. She heard it and invited him to her studio, on the other side of the world from where he was. The sessions became a tune, and then an album, of scraggly, lackadaisical, and compulsively listenable rock. The album, Lotta Sea Lice, also comments on the collaboration that birthed it—resulting in a surprisingly moving reflection on the creative process itself.

That first cut they worked on, “Over Everything,” is a career highlight for both musicians. Even before the singing begins, the guitar parts—pretty and melodic, spiraling up and down and back onto themselves—establish a sense of communion, of call and response. Vile and Barnett then trade lines that build on shared ideas but showcase two singular voices. Barnett sings of a “beautiful morning” with literary-diary specificity: “The trees are all waggin’, my hair-flag waving / The scenery ragin’, my life-love cascading.” Vile’s nice day is fuzzier, rendered both more abstract and more conversational: “When I’m outside in a real good mood,” the last two words boasting a few extra o’s.

The song is about making songs, as is much of Lotta Sea Lice. Vile spends his time alone noodling blues riffs; Barnett comes up with ditties off news headlines. Vile plugs in headphones to plug into his right brain; Barnett does the same, replying, “You could say ‘I hear you’ on several levels / at high decibels / over everything.” It’s a great line: rhythmically tricky, grounded in the straightforward conversation they’re having, yet …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Best of

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