Having had worked in a studio in Philadelphia, PA, my hometown just a half-hour north of the city, that had worked with Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel of the War on Drugs, and still do, the name Kurt Vile had been a name in music that I had known for a really long time, but never actually checked out. Same with the War on Drugs, of which him and Adam Granduciel were two of the founding members of the group, before Kurt left after their first album to pursue his own solo career.
There was never any resentment between Kurt and Adam towards his early departure however; “we’re essentially best friends,” Kurt explained to AllMusic, “he was backing me up in my band when he started working on his own music, so I thought I’d return the favor. Right when that record came out, I went to Europe with them, and also opened as Kurt Vile. That was right when I decided I wanted to concentrate on doing my own thing. There was never, despite what lazy journalists have assumed, any sort of falling out.” Now on his 6th record, B’lieve I’m Goin Down, and his deal with Matador, Kurt Vile has made a pretty big name for himself, for those in the know at least.
So about two weeks ago, I finally took the overdue plunge into Vile’s music. While I could appreciate some of Smoke Ring for My Halo or Walkin On a Pretty Daze, the way critics have been buzzing about B’lieve I’m Goin Down is very interesting to me, as well as the over-arching Kurt Vile buzz in general. He’s a fantastic guitar player, but his Mac DeMarco when he turns 40 vibe, Bob Dylan-like vocal crone, and mostly songs extending past six minutes just isn’t doing it for me like it seems to do for critics. Even Lost in the Dream by the War on Drugs, the most critically acclaimed album of last year, gave me the same kind of, cool sometimes but there’s no really fantastic qualities about it feeling, however harsh that may be.
B’lieve I’m Goin Down, to me, just drone’s on too long. If the six minute songs were brought down to three, four, minutes each, and they had more of a ramp to the chorus that didn’t seem to just drag the song onward, then it wouldn’t be as boring or musically drone-like. But for all I know, maybe there is something magical in Kurt Vile and even the War on Drugs’ music, after all, Lost in the Dream did win the most Album of the Year charts of 2014, who’s to say that a similar sounding artist with a shared background as the War on Drugs doesn’t pull out a win with B’lieve I’m Goin Down for 2015. We’ll just have to wait and see for now, maybe by the time December rolls around, I’ll have found whatever’s missing in Vile’s music for me, or maybe it’s just not there, and the record doesn’t resonate with me like it has for others. Music is subjective after all.
Listen via Apple Music and Spotify.