Rising star and Melbourne’s next big export, Courtney Barnett is poised for greatness. Not since Arctic Monkeys launched their landmark debut in 2006 has a voice captured the immediate zeitgeist of youth experience in their native environment. Barnett has a way of voicing the things that rattle around in the back of your mind, pushed there by an unwilling subconscious when it's too uncomfortable to bring them up sober. The result is confronting, joyous, deadpan and emotional.
Beginning with a stomp, ‘Elevator Operator’ follows a man on an adventurous day off as he ditches work in favour of riding the lift to the top floor so he can imagine playing Sim City. Swanston Street commuters are dodged in favour of a daydream and stacking coke cans. She follows up quickly with more pace and ragged guitars on lead single ‘Pedestrian At Best’, a track that sees Courtney wrestling with the twenty-something desire to be aloof, protected, attached and connected all at once. “I love you, I hate you, I’m on the fence... it all depends,” she garbles, shunning the pedestal of an expectant beau. This meditation is resumed during ‘Small Poppies’; “I make mistakes till I get it right,” she croons, the threat of bumping into ex-lovers in public looms large and “at the end of the day its a pain that I keep seeing your name.”
COURTNEY BARNETT - DEPRESTON
Healthy eating, the environment and anxious insomnia are all dealt with on the record, the later uncovered on ‘An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in NY)’ as Barnett lies in bed thinking she's hungry but “thinking of you too”. She bluntly draws herself time and time again through the worrisome situations we do battle with on a daily basis. ‘Depreston’ is easily the best song, written about house hunting in the Northern Suburbs. Playing saving money on lattes against the ownerless handrail in the shower lends the mundane a poignant significance. It ends with a dreamy guitar solo.
Barnett’s axe work is rough but thoroughly suited to the tone of the record. Her playing, like the vocals is charming and honest. The feel is what’s most important here and it is perfectly pitched. Highlight ‘Kim’s Caravan’ begins with spindly guitars and a creeping bass. Barnett sets the scene sitting on the beach with a box of hot chips, thankful for the view but mindful of the cost. Once again her mind wanders to perception; “we think that we’re invincible or that we’re invisible, realistically we’re somewhere in between.” As an artist or poet, it is Barnett’s compulsion to suggest and reveal while it is the role of the audience or listener to interpret. It’s an exchange that she both elevates and reduces. “Don't ask me what I really mean,” she pleads “I’m just a reflection of what you really wanna see, so take what you want from me.”
In a year already bursting with quality Australian releases, Courtney Barnett edges herself past the likes of Twerps, Dick Diver and Chook Race to offer an early front runner for local record of the year. With storytelling so specific and so touching, it is hard to deny this album. ‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’ will work its way into your heart very quickly if you take the time and sit yourself.
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