The musical pairing of Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile seems like a match made in heaven. Their particular brands of storytelling and guitar work blend together like beer and pizza, forming songs that speak to the normal routine of life. In their songs they muse about everyday things like breakfast and boredom, the music sounding like a refined version of every suburban kid’s acoustic jam sessions in high school. And that’s a compliment. Their music seems comfortable in its garage rock roots, both fun and comforting in its simplicity.
Coming off of their recent collaborative album “Lotta Sea Lice,” the pair has been touring quite a bit this past year. Fans have enjoyed the pairs’ unique take on garage rock, with lyrics that speak of lazy days and wry observations.
Vile starts the song “Over Everything” with a little peek into one of these days:
“When I’m all alone on my own by my lonesome
And there ain’t a single ‘nother soul around
I wanna dig into my guitar bend a blues riff that hangs
At the instant Vile stops singing, Barnett enters with her own observations, countering and building on Vile’s experience. It’s as if they were old friends sharing stories about their days, ones filled with music and ideas and everyday things:
“When I’m by myself and it’s daytime cuz down-under
Or wherever it is I live when it’s evening
You know I speed-read the morning news
And come up with my own little song also”
That’s the feel of the pair’s music. It’s a musical camaraderie built off of a shared understanding and friendship. At some points in “Over Everything” the two sing together, like when they both croon:
“Don’t wanna talk about it
Simultaneous I shout it”
Individual but separate, their music is what connects them together. The joy of a fun jam session is vital to the song, especially when Vile plays little solos that land somewhere between low-key and energetic.
Second song “Continental Breakfast” seems to reflect on the friendship between the two musicians. They mention “inter-continental” friendships amid lyrics with similar qualities of everyday observation:
“I cherish my intercontinental friendships
Not much very big on enemies
So I kick a can way up into the sun, man
But it falls down into a ravine
I don’t mean to even think about it that way, but I do
Watchin’ the waves come in at night
From my back porch stoop, porch swing swingin’ on its own
See it’s just an inhabitant of some holy ghost”
The lazy, almost apathetic feel of their music shines through on the song. The track seems to reside in a place of world weariness, where friendship is one of the few places you can rest and be comfortable in this big world.
With touches of humor and a catalog of lazy-day songs, they continue to entertain the NPR office with songs like “Blue Cheese,” which Vile wrote in his early teenage years. It’s silly and fun and nice antidote to the serious bent of most modern music.
The pair end with the song “Let it Go,” which has more of the same feel of the previous compositions. For more from Barnett and Vile, you can listen to their album “Lotta Sea Lice,” which is out now.