Let’s get something clear: the collaboration album is one of the most disappointing realities in music. It’s a bright and promising concept, matching up two similar musical styles and hitting the studio, intertwining ideas and melodies, but far too often do we as music fans see these things come to life and die a quick and painless death. Whether it’s Brian Eno and Cluster, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, David Byrne and St. Vincent, or Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood, decade after decade, artists with homologous musical identities work together in attempts to hone their craft and hopefully make a worthwhile album in the process. At times, these relationships may sound too forced or jumbled, with separate visions of their final results.

Now, this isn’t going without saying there are indeed a few collaboration albums that are worth listening to and deciphering. Sometimes it takes years to find the proper duo willing to put their solo acts on the back burner, embracing their counterpart’s ideas despite their own artistic visions. So what do you get when you take two of indie rock’s sharpest slack-rockers from opposite sides of the globe and put them in the studio together? A potential masterpiece, I assume.

The friendship of Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett is an unlikely and random one. Distant acquaintances, stuffed into the same scene by critics and click-bait music publications, only vaguely knowing one another but both huge fans of each other's music. That all changed in 2015, when Vile was in the midst of a photoshoot in his hometown, Philadelphia, daydreaming a rough draft of 'Over Everything', the lead single off their collaboration album Lotta Sea Lice. Vile pictured Barnett singing it with him, an idea that only some of us could even fathom. Sooner than later, the two formed an intercontinental friendship — the inspiration for one of the album’s standouts, 'Continental Breakfast' — coming up with half-written songs for the other to finish.

Eventually, Vile made his way over to Melbourne, where Barnett is based, and the duo locked themselves in the studio. The end result was Lotta Sea Lice, or more formally, 45 minutes of instrumental bliss and existential dread. When Vile and Barnett team up, they sound at peace, relaxed and careless, feeding off one another’s melancholic musings and storytelling. Simply put, Lotta Sea Lice is full of cozy, Sunday morning coffee jams, backed by whirlwinds of swirling guitars and loose chord patterns.

Vile and Barnett’s stream-of-consciousness lyrical approach has never sounded so cohesive, riffling off tongue-in-cheek one-liners and hilarious images like “I didn’t mean to cough on her/ Forgot to add the fabric softener/ I met a girl named Tina/ That girl, that girl, supplies the reeferina.” The beauty of this friendship isn’t necessarily the music, but the attitudes they share: careless, facetious, and half-baked.

Half of Lotta Sea Lice consists of covers, which often acts in the duo’s favor. On 'Fear Is Like A Forest', arguably the strongest track off of Lotta Sea Lice, the duo covers Barnett’s partner Jen Cloher’s immensely underrated song from her 2009 album Hidden Hands. But instead of sticking to the original sound — a ridiculously common mistake among covers — Vile and Barnett turn it into a slow-rolling and moody Zuma-era ballad reminiscent of Neil Young’s 'Cortez the Killer'. Other covers include Vile’s take on Barnett’s 'Outta the Woodwork', as well as Barnett’s take on Vile’s 'Peeping Tomboy', which both turn out to be stronger than the originals. Their sounds compliment each other in a very organic way, like this all was destined the happen the minute they both decided to pursue music.

On the surface, Lotta Sea Lice is a snappy collection of happy-go-lucky folk tunes, sung harmoniously yet imperfectly. But as the album unfolds and expands, there’s a deeper and darker presence lurking from song to song, making beauty out of a divided and chaotic world. Although Lotta Sea Lice didn’t exactly live up to it’s potential and hype, the end result is still something to be reckoned with; a fascinating and balanced attempt at perfecting the concept of the collaboration album. Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett might not change the world or your life with their music, but it sure does help pass the time. I guess it’s true what they say: Two really is better than one.