By Ian Bremner
Since the collaboration was announced, fans of Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett have been eagerly awaiting the results of such a dream pairing. If there were any pressures to deliver on such high expectations, their joint record, Lotta Sea Lice shows no signs of it. Though Vile and Barnett are indie-rock superstars, Lotta Sea Lice is less of an explosive super group effort, as much as it is two buddies jamming out, sharing tunes and creating new ones.
On paper a CB-KV duo is a match made in heaven. They are obvious fans of each other and the chemistry is palpable. Both songwriters have histories of hard rock, folk tunes and the slyest of deadpan deliveries. Kurt and Courtney are the type of artists who could make a song about literally, anything (Barnett has a song 3 Packs A day which is about Raman noodles), and make it sound interesting.
The project started as simply a 7″ or a joint single, but quickly turned into something more concrete. 9 tracks, 44 minutes later, Lotta Sea Lice is a combination platter of original tunes, covers and taking turns singing each other’s songs. In a collection of highlights, Vile singing Barnett’s Outta the Wordwork and Courtney’s version of Kurt’s Peepin’ Tom perfectly highlight why these two work so well together.
Being endlessly touring musicians and living in Australia and Philadelphia, perhaps a musical microcosm of their relationship can be summed up in the song, Continental Breakfast. Accompanied by perhaps the cutest video you will see, CB and KV trade lines about the simplicities of friendship across the globe. I cherish my intercontinental friendships / we talk about it over continental breakfast / in a hotel in east bumble wherever / somewhere on the sphere around here.
Where A Lotta Sea Lice may not be the most complete project in terms of Barnett’s and Vile’s solo careers, it is absolutely a landmark in their respective catalogues. Two wildly talented friends simply playing music together goes a long way in warming the soul.
Listen to Lotta Sea Lice via spotify
Official video for Over Everything
Official video for Continental Breakfast
Watch a live version of Over Everything via KCRW