It’s been three years since Kurt Vile’s last solo record, 2015’s b’lieve I’m goin’ down, but he has stayed busy. Touring with his band The Violators, sitting in with The Sadies, and collaborating with Courtney Barnett on last year’s Lotta Sea Lice, Vile has served his restless spirit in the best way he knows how: to keep creating. His new record, Bottle It In, finds him continuing on his collaborative journey, as he joins forces with a fascinating group of artists across 13 tracks and a handful of states. Vile also keeps mining new territory as it relates to his sound. Bottle It In offers a more heaping dose of the hints at country and pop we’ve heard from him along the way so far, but with that signature cloudy melodic haze.
Vile was born and bred in Philly and still calls it home. We get a true love song to his beloved city with “Loading Zones”, a dreamy, smooth ode to familiarity and comfort of a place. In the song, Vile and The Violators take pride in their ability to get around a parking ticket, hopping around between loading zones as they do errands and go about the day. Vile kicks it up with a bouncy guitar lick on “Yeah Bones”, and employs a sharp, curving guitar trick on “Bassackwards”. “One-Trick Ponies” plays out like a group of friends enjoying a relaxed jam session, toasting to friendship and the good times. And “Rollin’ With the Flow” is an easy-breezy country tune, with Vile’s version of sun-drenched, 70s twang.
Elsewhere on Bottle It In, appearances from Cass McCombs’ woozy backing vocals on the album’s lengthy epic title track; harmonies from Lucius on the mystical, springy banjo-led “Come Again”; and Kim Gordon’s dark, somber guitar flow on the light-headed “Mutinies” help create a dense and hypnotic soundscape to get lost in.
The lyrics on this record seem to find Vile in a place of appreciating where he’s at, even as he yearns to keep evolving. He confronts his restlessness head-on, but also finds moments to be still and take his time, enjoying all of the wonderful people that surround him. Bottle It In always feels like a Kurt Vile record, but it’s a Vile who is not content to stay in his comfort zone; who is constantly searching for more.