It’s been a good couple years for Australia’s music scene. Starting with Wolfmother, but more recently introducing us to Tame Impala, Vance Joy… and one songwriter I’m currently obsessed with, Courtney Barnett.
Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit is her first full length album and after listening to it over and over again I’d be so inclined to call her a lyrical genius. I wouldn’t try to limit her music to a genre, it’s sort of an independent voice in rock at this moment. Grunge-y, contemplative, and poetic, the album reads almost like a novel.
Elevator Operator opens, an audibly happy (lyrically macabre) song about some woman who thinks some guy is going to jump off a roof. The guy swears he isn’t suicidal but “just idling insignificantly”, narrated with characteristic Barnett lines like “I come up here for perception and clarity/I like to imagine I’m playing SimCity/All the people look like ants from up here”.
Then on to one of my favorite songs by Barnett, Pedestrian at Best, which reminds me of my worst relationship complete with guitar riffs. “I love you, I hate you, it all depends” or “put me on a pedestal I’ll only disappoint you”. The entire song can be considered a monologue of someone’s perception of why not to get into a relationship, namely, because the narrator is an asshole and knows it. “Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you”. At least she’s poetic in her honesty.
And that’s what I love about Courtney Barnett. She’s an honest songwriter, a good songwriter, and a good musician at that. She’s pretty young and reminds me of that Lena Dunham-era 20-year old angst that I’ve come to really enjoy. Depreston is actually a pretty beautifully written song – I don’t know much in the way of musical capability, but those guitar chords (riffs?) that remind me of a slow Interpol song are something magical and sad all at once. Nobody Cares if you don’t go to the Party is another jumpy, happy, funny one worth a listen; well really, the whole album deserves to be listened to.
I would definitely recommend the album and the artist, she’s been around for a while before this gem but recently toured around Europe and as I understand it (since I of course wasn’t able to make any of the spectacular shows), she’s seriously blowing up. One of her songs was also featured in the Netflix original BoJack Horseman, where I first heard about her. If you’re just tuning into Courtney Barnett, I’d say pick up Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit.