‘One Trick Ponies‘, one of the singles prefacing Kurt Vile’s new album, serves as both a bit of preemptive self-critique and a statement of intent. “I’ve always had a soft spot for repetition” croons Vile in the song’s chorus. And, yes, we know the drill: countryfied Yacht-rock with daydreamy, rambling commentary. But, whilst Bottle It In doesn’t exactly veer off Vile’s well-trodden path, it does throw up some interesting bumps in the road. Opener ‘Loading Zones’ is a travelogue homage to Vile’s old Philadelphia haunts replete with Framptonesque voice box and squirming sax. Where the stomp of ‘Check Baby’ somewhat injects a bit of pep into proceedings, ‘Rollin With the Flow’ takes 70s Grand Old Opry schmaltz and gives it a strong horse tranquilizer. Vile gives us mellotron-tinged waltzes (‘Mutinies’), scratchy surf oddities (‘Cold Was the Wind’) and all the while his Mascis-does-Dylan delivery traces a common thread. Save for a few extra production bells and whistles, Vile’s first solo outing since last year’s Courtney Barnett collaboration pretty much picks up where he left off, and that’s fine… probably. For those introduced to his work via Lotta Sea Lice (on heavy rotation in just about every “hip”, flat white- serving, vegan brownie-baking, witty tip jar notice-writing establishment last year) this will be an easy initiation into Vile’s laid-back world.
Chocked full of enough lo-fi alt-pop meanderings to keep über fans happy, Bottle It In’s
shortcomings may only be apparent to those looking for some sort of growth or new angle in Vile’s music. One gets the impression, however, that Vile is acutely aware of the situation and is content to continue the only way he knows how. Like the man says…”Some are one trick ponies, but we love ‘em”.