Kurt Vile – “One Trick Ponies”

The mumbling prophet of folk rock, Kurt Vile, has returned with one more single leading up to next week’s release of his eighth album, Bottle It In. Last month he treated us to nine minutes of meandering musings with “Bassackwards,” which we deemed one of the best songs of the week. Today he’s shared a new, remarkably sincere track, “One Trick Ponies.”

Vile songs are reliably clever, observant, and a little hallucinogenic. They are not often as unambiguous and open-hearted as “One Trick Ponies,” a salute to the enduring, weathered, seen-some-shit kind of unconditional love.

You could project it onto romance, but I hear divine worship in his nasally warble, for a group of very old friends: “Loved them all through many a lifetime/ Some are gone but some still strong/ Some are weird as hell but we love ‘em.” He sings to the flawed, average human beings in his life, who do the same shit, make the same mistakes, laugh at the same jokes over and over again, but who he never gets tired of, no matter how many years it’s been: “Some are one trick ponies but we embrace ‘em/ Cuz I’ve always had a soft spot for repetition.” His woozy guitar and subtle piano and harmonica ground the earworm, while Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa and Farmer Dave Scher harmonize on the chorus, adding to the familial mood.

The track finds Vile utterly ambivalent about the ecstasy and adventure of combustible passion and infatuation. He’s much more interested in celebrating his “one trick ponies” and the kind of love that comes from sharing years of history and memory with those he loves “right down to his soul.” If you’ve ever experienced the sensation of being overwhelmed by this kind of love, you’ll feel how he captures it’s holiness, perfectly.

Humor and ennui are central to Kurt Vile’s sound, however, and he can’t get through a song as earnest as this one without making a few cracks, which perhaps help in distancing “One Trick Ponies” from an Edward Sharpe campfire singalong. Every other verse he worries he’s being corny. “Called all your names/ They echoed down for miles and miles/ And all that other mystical, well.. never-you-mind” he says, trailing off. Later he self-digs, comparing the repetition he has such a taste for, to a “song if the repeats were long.”

But mostly, it’s an grinning, unapologetically huge-hearted song, expressing sheer awe and gratitude for love: “Loved you all a long, long while/ And I’d give my left never-mind/ For one big synchronized smile/ Some are one-trick ponies but so am I/ Round em up’ into a mixed-bag bundle of love now.”

Watch a lo-fi lyric video for the track below, starring Vile in the wilderness.

TOUR DATES:
10/12 – Hamburg, Germany @ Grünspan ^
10/13 – Gothenburg, Sweden @ Pustervik ^
10/14 – Oslo, Norway @ Rockefeller #
10/15 – Stockholm, Sweden @ Bern #
10/16 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Vega #
10/18 – Berlin, Germany @ Huxleys #
10/19 – Munich, Germany @ Muffathalle #
10/20 – Zurich, Switzerland @ X-Tra #
10/21 – Lyon, France @ Epicerie Moderne #
10/22 – Barcelona, Spain @ Apolo #
10/23 – Madrid, Spain @ Teatro Barceló #
10/25 – Lisbon, Spain @ Lisboa Ao Vivo #
10/26 – Porto, Portugal @ Hard Club #
10/27 – Bilbao, Spain @ BIME Festival #
10/28 – Bordeaux, France @ Theatre Barbey #
10/29 – Paris, France @ La Cigale #
10/30 – Brussels, Belgium @ Autumn Falls @ AB #
11/01 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso #
11/02 – Köln, Germany @ Kantine #
11/03 – Groningen, Netherlands @ Take Root Festival
11/05 – Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2 #
11/06 – London, UK @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire #
11/07 – London, UK @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire #
11/08 – Bristol, UK @ St Philips Gate #
11/09 – Birmingham, UK @ The Crossing #
11/10 – Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall #
11/11 – Leeds, UK @ 02 Academy #
11/13 – Glasgow, UK @ SWG3 #
11/14 – Dublin, Ireland @ Vicar Street #
11/15 – Belfast, UK @ The Limelight #
11/24 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues *
11/28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel *
11/30 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
12/03 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse *
12/05 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Jones Assembly *
12/06 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live at The Moody Theater *
12/07 – Dallas, TX @ Canton Hall *
12/09 – San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park *
12/11 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern *
12/12 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre *
12/14 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom *
12/15 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre *
12/16 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom *
12/19 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue *
12/20 – Madison, WI @ Sylvee *
12/21 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall *
12/22 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre *
12/29 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Met Philadelphia %
02/14 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground +
02/15 – Montreal, QUE @ Mtelus +
02/16 – Toronto, ONT @ Danforth Music Hall +
02/19 – Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theatre +
02/20 – Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre +
02/21 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue +
02/22 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners +
02/23 – Bloomington, IL @ Castle Theatre +
02/24 – St. Louis, MO @ Pageant +
02/26 – Omaha, NE @ The Slowdown +
02/27 – Kansas City, MO @ Truman +
02/28 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre +
03/01 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot +
03/02 – Phoenix, AZ @ TBD
03/03 – Las Vegas, NV @ House Of Blues +
03/05 – Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre +
03/06 – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf +
03/08 – New Braunfels, TX @ Gruene Hall +
03/09 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall +
03/10 – New Orleans, LA @ Civic Theatre +
03/12 – Orlando, FL @ The Beacham +
03/13 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution Live +
03/15 – Birmingham, AL @ Saturn +
03/16 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium +
03/17 – Richmond, VA @ The National +
04/15 – Sydney, NSW @ Enmore &
04/16 – Wallongong, NSW @ Unibar &
04/17 – Canberra, NSW @ ANU &
04/18 – Byron Bay, NSW @ Byron Bay Bluesfest
04/20 – Byron Bay, NSW @ Byron Bay Bluesfest
04/22 – Melbourne, VIC @ The Forum &
04/27 – Adelaide, SA @ The Gov &
04/28 – Perth, WA @ Rosemount Carpark &

^ denotes w/ Meg Baird (solo)
# denotes w/ Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore
* denotes w/ Jessica Pratt
% denotes w/ The Feelies
+ denotes w/ The Sadies
& denotes w/ RVG

Bottle It In is out 10/12 on Matador Records. Pre-order it here.

CREDIT: Jo McCaughey