Kurt Vile, the long-haired king of laid-back rock, returns with his seventh solo album. After a series of incredible singles, the album’s 79-minute runtime gives us everything we could have hoped for, and much, much more. Amongst the album’s bleary-eyed, psychedelic haze, one thing remains crystal clear: we have reached peak KV.
When Vile released the album’s second single, ‘Bassackwards’, I was prepared for that to be the album’s centrepiece. With a runtime of 9:46, it seemed that it would be the big finale for the album, the culmination of everything else. It was pretty easy to see why: building on some of the longer rambling epics from his earlier work, such as ‘Wakin’ on a Pretty Day’ and ‘Lost My Head There’, ‘Bassackwards’ is not only some of Vile’s finest work, but perhaps the most accurate way to summarise his music in one song. It’s a relaxing, stream-of-consciousness piece that goes for long enough to immerse you in, but never feels boring.
But ‘Bassackwards’ is just one aspect of this vibrant body of work. Hell, it’s not even the longest song on the album. Both the album’s title track, and album closer ‘Skinny Mini’, weight in at over ten minutes long. And while they may not have the immediate charm of singles ‘Loading Zones’ and ‘One Trick Ponies’, they give the album an incredible depth.
With every listen, a new favourite song will reveal itself. Whether it’s the campfire singalong of ‘One Trick Ponies’, the raw blues of ‘Check Baby’, or the jangly energy of ‘Yeah Bones’, there is so much to love about Bottle It In. Each song shows another side of Vile, another reason he’s one of the best singer-songwriters of this decade.
Bottle It In is its own world, the kind of place you can get lost in. It’s that magical time of day just before sunrise when the world is peacefully asleep, and words tumble out of Vile’s mouth in some form of delirious wisdom. In the world of Bottle It In, nobody talks about the supposed ‘death’ of guitar music, not when they’ve heard what Kurt Vile can do with his guitar. In the world of Bottle It In, everything feels cozy, like staying in bed as the rain comes down outside. So while 79 minutes might sound like a long time, you’ll cherish every second as Vile whisks you away to this world he’s created.