Album of the Week: Kurt Vile, 'b'lieve i'm goin down...'

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Kurt Vile, 'b'lieve i'm goin down...'
Kurt Vile, 'b'lieve i'm goin down...' (Matador Records)

Kurt Vile's b'lieve i'm goin down… isn't just an addition to his discography, it's a signpost in a career of an indie-rock underdog who has found success by trying hard to not try hard. After two albums working with John Agnello (a producer who has worked with Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.), Vile turned to his bandmates and friends to produce his sixth studio album.

Recorded across five states and nine studios, b'lieve i'm goin down… is a reflection of Vile's life starting a family and exploring his identity as a songwriter. You can hear him shed his early influences on songs that bring out his signature vocal delivery and introspective lyrics. He sounds less like a protégé of Neil Young or Lou Barlow as he effortlessly kicks off the album with "Pretty Pimpin" and "I'm an Outlaw."

While Vile gets serious about his life on songs like "Wheelhouse," he still maintains his sense of humor on "Wild Imagination" and "Kidding Around." Vile sings, "Ain't it funny when others try to tell you what you're trying to do? But I'm all ears, clearly you have not been listening to my pretty song?"

The album's title speaks to Vile's outlook on life and the world around him. Whether or not he actually believes his life and music are "going down," he's acutely self-aware. On "That's Life, Tho (Almost Hate to Say)," he sings, "When I go out I take pills to take the edge off for to just chillax, man, forget about it … just certified badass out for a night on the town." At first the song sounds self-referential, but it also sounds like Vile's observation of the people around him looking for a false escape from a life that has become less exciting when you're still young but heading towards being a middle aged musician.

Kurt Vile's b'lieve i'm goin down… is available now on Matador Records.

Audience ratings for this album


Among The Current's listeners who submitted a rating for this album, two-thirds gave it 5 out of 5 stars. Poll closed at 12 noon on Friday, Oct. 23.

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