Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile: Lotta Sea Lice review – kindred spirits are on charming, kooky form


Although the pairing of these two wonderfully languid singer-songwriters could have ended up too hazy, their mutually dreamy, drawling styles complement each other perfectly. The way their guitars jangle and chime together reflects a longstanding friendship. They sing on each other’s old songs: Barnett’s Outta the Woodwork or a joyously upbeat version of Vile’s Blue Cheese. They turn in a harmony-soaked take on Belly’s Untogether and Barnett leads a Crazy Horse-style blast through her wife Jen Cloher’s Fear Is Like a Forest.

Five new original songs showcase a similar kooky charm as they rattle through random subjects. Vile sings about decibel-induced hearing impairment in six-minute opening duet Over Everything, while the pair drawlingly celebrate their long-distance bond in Continental Breakfast (“I cherish my intercontinental friendships”). Laughter in the studio punctuates songs that sound as much of a delight to record as they do to listen to: Lotta Sea Lice is at least the sum of its two talented parts.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile: Lotta Sea Lice review – high hopes not quite met
(Marathon Artists/Matador/Milk!)

Phil Mongredien

22, Oct, 2017 @7:00 AM

Article image
Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel review – sharp barbs and no holds barred
Barnett’s second album is angrier, gathering her arrows to skewer the world’s problems like a loud battle cry

Alexandra Pollard

18, May, 2018 @8:00 AM

Article image
Courtney Barnett on coping with fame, homophobia – and thinking she still sucks
The Australian musician has gone from indie darling to global star, but she’s still uneasy in the limelight and wracked with self-doubt – even self-hate

Jenny Valentish

17, May, 2018 @3:02 PM

Article image
Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit review – acerbic and staunchly down-to-earth
The Melbourne indie-rocker’s debut album mixes small-town stories and sharp humour to smart effect

Lanre Bakare

19, Mar, 2015 @9:15 PM

Article image
Ty Segall and White Fence: Joy review – kindred spirits on a white knuckle ride
From fuzz pedal anarchy to Beach Boys harmonies and a growling dog, the Californian indie pair serve up a frenetic selection of gleefully off-kilter tracks

Dave Simpson

20, Jul, 2018 @8:30 AM

Article image
Kurt Vile: Bottle It in review – pin-sharp insights through a slacker haze
Some well-chosen new flavours including jazzy improv enhance Vile’s facility with melody, underneath the stoner elements

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

12, Oct, 2018 @8:00 AM

Article image
The best albums of 2017: the full list
St Vincent tops our countdown of this year’s most outstanding sounds, from complex rap to moody rock, alt-R&B, inventive grime and more

05, Dec, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
Kurt Vile: Wakin' on a Pretty Daze – review
Kurt Vile is now on his fifth album and the songs seem to be flowing with embarrassing ease

Dave Simpson

04, Apr, 2013 @9:03 PM

Article image
Black Cab Sessions: Courtney Barnett performs Dead Fox
The Australian singer previews one the latest songs from her much-touted debut album while taxiing around London

Guardian music

20, Apr, 2015 @10:28 AM

Article image
Lambchop: Flotus review – Kurt Wagner's skilful swerve into electronics

Alexis Petridis

03, Nov, 2016 @9:00 PM