I ‘b’lieve’ Kurt Vile’s New Album is ‘Going Down’ as One of my Favorites This Year

For whatever reason, the record store I work at got four promotional copies of Vile’s latest album, “b’lieve i’m goin’ down,” so I was able to take one home. I thought I really enjoyed it being played through the PA in the store, but after having spent some quality time in solitude to take in the album as a whole, I can honestly say that this has become both my favorite Vile album, and possibly my favorite album this year.

From his reflective self examination on the album’s opener, “Pretty Pimpin,” to the keen insights he provides on the fantasy of burning out before fading away on “That’s Life, Tho (Almost Hate to Say),” (in addition to peppered insights throughout), Vile allows the listener to be a fly on the wall inside of his still and observant mind as he pulls the curtains back on some of the darker shades of his point of view. That isn’t to say that the album is a downer, far from it. His lyrics hold a zen-like perspective, painting his subjects simply as they are, with the music providing different shades of color that brings each song together as a whole.

Musically Vile’s style of finger picking remains largely the same, with occasional nods to his previous work in songs like “Kidding Around,” which bears a striking similarity to “Peeping Tomboy,” off of his 2011 album, “Smoke Ring for my Halo”. Although these types of nods can be found in a few places throughout Vile’s extensive catalog, they are never tedious, but rather charming reminders of who we’re listening to; and that sentiment holds equally true for this latest edition. The album also finds Vile expanding beyond his stylistic guitar playing to a few tracks where the piano takes the forefront, as well as one track where he takes up the banjo. These tracks are welcome addition to Vile’s standard accompaniment, adding a fresh layer to his songwriting.

Overall “b’lieve i’m goin down” adds depth both musically and lyrically to Vile’s established sound, injecting maturing insight into well-crafted songs that help to flesh out the quiet observer that lies dormant in the back alleys of the psyche. Best to listen to in quiet solitude with the lights dim, or in the car towards the setting sun. Give it some time, and it might just speak to you.

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Orlando-based guitar yielder and music slut. I play in the band, A Room Full of Strangers, work at a record store, and write for this blog from time to time.

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