As heirs apparent to the throne of '90s alt-rock, Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett appear to be an ideal match -- comrades in slacktivism united by a shrug and a smirk. If neither singer/songwriter sounds precisely like the other, they're good complements, both cherishing laconic melodies, loping rhythms, and a loads of guitar. All of these elements are in play on Lotta Sea Lice, a rambling nine-song affair that finds the duo singing each other's songs, playing tunes penned by friends, and covering Belly's "Untogether," an underappreciated '90s cult classic that the band once played as a duet with Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Barnett and Vile do not bring to mind Yorke and Tanya Donelly, nor do they sound a thing like the original Kurt and Courtney of Nirvana and Hole fame. Singing together, Vile and Barnett evoke J Mascis and Liz Phair, comparisons that have been leveled against the individual rockers before, but on this lazy stroll of an LP, it appears the pair are indulging in alt-rock cosplay. It doesn't help matters that when they indulge in an explicit duet, they often veer toward the cutesy, as on "Continental Breakfast," where they puff up their international friendship over the titular meal. Usually, though, Lotta Sea Lice just settles into a cozy rustic groove that dispenses with any of the coiled energy of Barnett's Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. and opts for Vile's cheery stoner strumming. As they're both charismatic singers with a way with an elliptical melody, it's pleasant. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Here are two great indie-rock songwriters getting together to spool out autumnal guitar prettiness and converse about life, art and whatever. As collaborators, they're a perfect match..."
Spin - "The transcontinental pairing of Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile makes an immediate, intuitive kind of sense. Both are wry, casually thoughtful songwriters with immediately recognizable singing voices..."
Uncut - "[W]arm, innovative and immensely satisfying; as if a friendly woodshedding session accidentally turned out a modern classic."
Paste (magazine) - "By eschewing ambition in favor of intimacy, the album is both comfortable and comforting. While Barnett and Vile don't travel far from their established sounds in their collaboration, the sum of their contributions yields fresh results."
Pitchfork (Website) - "[O]n a musical level, the two encroach on common twangy turf whenever their respective songs settle into a country-rock groove. And ultimately their differing songwriting styles serve the same function..."
Clash (Magazine) - "Kurt and Courtney perfectly complement one another with their similarly unhurried delivery....The intricacy offered by dual guitars also provides added texture to each song in a way that isn't always present on the pair's individual projects..."