Lotta Sea Lice: friendship, the suburbs, and the blues you all know and love

October 15, 2017

Alex Epstein

I listen to this album on a sunny Sunday morning in Melbourne, just as Philadelphia settles in to their Saturday night. It brings back all the late mornings I spent with a cup of coffee and A Sea of Split Peas. It’s brick-fence, garden-wall, sunny cul-de-sac backyard, and truly lovely.

“Oh, I love it; Australia’s probably my favourite place to tour,” [Vile] gushes. “It’s close enough to the Philly ball-busting mentality, with a lot of emotion in the guts but also showing love to somebody by busting their balls now and then — I don’t know, it’s a combination of a lot of things, but Australians are my favourites.”

Like waves rolling into shore, Lotta Sea Lice floats, drawls and lingers. Dipped in reverb, with lines and licks that splash up against one another, Barnett and Vile make it seem effortless.

“I wanna dig into my guitar, bend a blues riff that hangs over everything,” Vile states on the album’s opener, “Over Everything”. That’s how I feel about this album – it offers itself up right away as a cool panacea. Take your mind off it, it seems to say, let it go. Come sit down with us.

The connection between Courtney and Kurt seems so easy, so intuitive. Barnett goes low, Vile goes high. You can hear the echoes of each others’ bluesy riffs early on in their discographies, in A Sea of Split Peas and Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze; they share Outta the Woodwork and Peepin Tom, harmonising and riffing on each other’s classic. These two half-covers give us a peek into their friendship and process, and it feels healthy and deeply authentic. Their connection is magically effortless, and frankly, a bit inspiring.

“Too far to fawl,” or “too far to fall”, Philly or Melbourne, black coffee or flat white, Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile have made something that feels sort of inevitable. Lotta Sea Lice is not just an enjoyable record – it’s insightful, warm, wry and relaxing. If you’re into its aesthetic, you’ll dig it. If you’re into Kurt, Courtney, or both, you’ll treasure it. Four stars.