New Music 12/2017 – Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, Agnes Obel

Warm and laid-back transcontinental collaboration between two talented musicians who can’t find a comb between the two of them; more sad Scandinavian gorgeousness from the Danish songstress.

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice

Most new albums take a while to wrap your head around, but this one felt like sinking your feet into a pair of comfortable well-loved slippers on the very first listen. I’m a big fan of Barnett and though I’ve never heard of Kurt Vile before, this pairing feels instantly inspired, with Barnett’s distinctive speak-singing and Vile’s slacker drawl complementing each other beautifully. Listening to this record feels like eavesdropping on a couple of good mates, sitting on a porch on a lazy summer afternoon, having a casual chat over languid country-rock soundtrack. There’s no flirtation or sexual tension commonly associated with guy/girl duets, so the fact that these two share first names with the alt-rock couple of the 90s is merely an amusing coincidence. It’s a truly lovely, intimate, tuneful album with a genuine chemistry and rapport, and Barnett’s knack for observations and details of the mundane is as sharp as ever.

Agnes Obel – Citizen of Glass

After two albums of mining the same territory, though undoubtedly exquisite one, it’s usually wise to shake things up a bit. Citizen of Glass doesn’t stray too far from Obel’s previous work, with her love of melancholic piano, strings and cinematic scope intact and her voice still hushed and ethereal, but it also experiments with new instruments and vocal distortion that brings to mind Fever Ray at times. The album feels more chilly and gothic, and more emotionally remote perhaps, but no less enchanting. Fingers crossed she tours Australia some day.

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