Kurt Vile is the King of bedroom rock grooves. His music can do everything from helping you doze off into a transcendent sleep, to just enjoying and soaking in the music alongside the people you love most. Vile is able to bring out some kind of unspoken feeling that connects everyone who listens to him.
The Philadelphia born native has just released his fourth album, b’lieve I’m goin down…. And being the giant Vile fan that I am, I breathed a sigh of relief when I first listened and understood that Vile is truly growing into himself more and more, and maturing into an impeccable musician. Unfortunately Vile is still known as the guy who left The War on Drugs, and people have a surprisingly hard time letting go of that. Although we can sit and draw all the similarities that Vile has with The War on Drugs, he is a completely different musician whose musical stylings have grown and developed beyond them.
The opener and first single “Pretty Pimpin” instantaneously got me excited for this album. It’s different and upbeat and has a sound that sounds like the old Vile, but with new a couple changes and a few tweaks here and there. The song does not really self-reflect like most of Vile’s songs, instead it actually is trying to find out who the person is that Vile is seeing in the mirror.
The character in the tune is lost and spinning down some kind of spiral, while Vile’s droney guitars sway us into a sweet slumber. “Dust Bunnies” is first and foremost a great song title, and an even better song. It’s starts with a deep bass line that quickly turns into Vile singing in a sassy voice about what seems like a person who is just trying to get through his life, not quite fitting in, and trying to decipher what kind of state of mind the person is in while going through everyday nuances.
Vile seems to have turned a new leaf with this album. He has changed not only stylistically, but in his lyrics as well. He has always been somewhat humorous with them, but with this album he is definitely not taking anything too seriously and is having some good ol’ fun. On “That’s Life, tho (almost hate to say)” he quietly mouths, “When I go out, I take pills to take the edge off/Or just to chillax.”
Although sarcastic and something we see in everyday life, when we get to the meat of the song Vile unleashes the truth of what he thinks of our modern day society. Under some light strumming of a guitar and a hint of piano, he tells us that much of our society fakes their way through life and is just trying to glide by, but as Vile says, that’s just life.
It’s nice to see that Vile is beginning to incorporate piano into his music. Now, I am the biggest sucker for piano, so when I first heard him using the angelic instrument I immediately knew that I would love this record. “Life Like This” opens with a sweet and graceful piano accompanied by an electric guitar and Vile’s droney, but comforting voice. Vile is taking us on a small journey through his life, and explaining to the curious listener what it’s like to live a day in the mysterious shoes of Kurt Vile. “Lost my Head there” was a tune that caught my attention because it was very different from what had been on the album thus far, and from what he has done in his career as well.
Incorporating the piano was of course as I had discussed earlier a huge transition for Vile, but this song had something that none of his other grooves have had. It was as much of a pop song that he would ever be able to write. It was happy, upbeat, had a hook and can draw the listener in. It’s a long tune that I would be ecstatic to hear live so that I could wave my hands freely in the air, soak in the vibes, and allow the dream like music of Kurt Vile to whisk me away.
Record number four and Vile is just getting greater and greater. he is changing with each album, and is taking us along for the ride. Vile has always been famous for being the awkward weird kid that no one really talked to, but was secretly really cool. He is telling us more and more about his life, and his personality is shining through more than ever now. I have had the pleasure of seeing Vile twice now, and I can’t wait to see him for a third time and experiencing the new person he has become since I have seen him last.