With his dreamy guitar spun landscapes and hazy melodies, Kurt Vile has made quite a name for himself over the last couple of years, and with his latest exhibit of work, the singer songwriter looks to continue doing so without breaking a stride.
b’lieve i’m goin down sees fit to stick with the calm, sun drenched style that’s worked so well so far, and in doing so provides another set of solid results. There are, however, a couple of noticeable flirtations with experimentation that slot in nicely to support Vile’s sound. The rugged, scuffed electronic drone that rears its head on “That’s Life Tho” not only melds with the weary blues behind the lyrical nature of the song but also shows that Vile can pull off a more synthetic look. Although he doesn’t really immerse himself in the idea or even touch upon it beyond this, its introduction opens an interesting door of further possibilities.
Other new slants fashioned on the album include playful percussive arrangements, lo-fi drum machines and a rustic flavour of country that can be picked out in numerous places. The Americana sandbox is something I always imagined would wonderfully compliment his slacker aesthetic, and here there are numerous moments which prove that theory to be true. From the smokey organs of “Dust Bunnies” to the rustic twang of Vile’s banjo on “I’m An Outlaw”, his implementation of this particular genre seems like a perfect fit, not just musically but thematically as well. b’lieve is an album that runs on mixed feelings — on one hand there’s a feeling of optimism streaked through the lyrical content, but combating that is a dogged sense of uncertainty. It makes for a truly interesting duality to hear and merges wonderfully into Kurt Vile’s musicality — which lies somewhere in between loose, free formed sketches and immaculately, finger picked compositions.
If you’re already on board with Kurt Vile, then his latest effort provides more strength to the cause. If you’re not quite there yet, then this could be the very record to push you off the fence. Smart, soulful, dreamy and with a number of new musical toys on display, it’s an album that suggests Vile is going anywhere but down.