MAGNET’s #21 Album Of 2015: Kurt Vile’s “b’lieve i’m goin down…”

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No one calls Steve Miller the space cowboy, but they might say it about Kurt Vile. His midnight rambles on this ho-humming tome of lowercase sapience could just as easily inspire a cult as lullaby a crib: One minute he’s hang-gliding into the valley of ashes, a certified badass pillboxer out for a night on the town; the next he’s rolling around on a furry carpet or turning on the couch, moving in on his cutie for a kiss on the mouth. Vile’s a fleeting thinker with a wild imagination, and he loses his head on the regular; a seasoned veteran of the War On Drugs, he occasionally finds himself in a “medication situation.” Don’t b’lieve it all—he’d also have you think he falls on his instruments and a dozen ear-burrowing songs walk out. (Seriously, “Pretty Pimpin”?) Halfway through one called “Kidding Around,” he interrupts some bullshit mysticism to question his own motives, and every music critic ever blushes: “What’s the meaning of this song? … I don’t care, it sounds so pretty/Its change is so sublime/What was the meaning of that last line?” Recently at the Fillmore, a crowd tried clapping along with his band the Violators; Vile ended that nonsense by shaking his head and saying, softly, “No.” Drugger, dreamer, drunkard, schemer; joker, smoker, midnight toker. All in a daze work. —Noah Bonaparte Pais