“Any of you guys hear of this Courtney Barnett character? Apparently, she’s a big deal? Or something. I dunno, I’ve been living under a granite object (aka “a rock”), for the past few years. But that doesn’t matter. I hate hype. Hate it with every inch of my soul. If there’s a blog that’s posting about you that has over 100 likes on the ol’ FB, I don’t want to know about you. If you’ve played a festival that’s isn’t located in a gutter, then I don’t want to hear your music. If, God forbid, you appear on some sort of television show, and bring millions of housewives to tears with a beautiful tune about house hunting, then you are practically Satan.” – Dickhead, 2015
Look, let’s put aside the fact that Courtney Barnett has led to a watershed moment for Australian music. She’s appeared on Jimmy Fallon and Ellen, played huge festivals like Glastonbury and Coachella, and she’s signed a deal with Mom + Pop Records in the US. All this, and she still rocks an East Brunswick All Girls Choir t-shirt. She’s a legend, for sure, straight up and down, representing Australian talent and potential whilst unleashing all her own remarkable talents upon the world. She’s a great songwriter, a fantastic guitarist, and she’s got The Drones’ Dan Luscombe onside. But is that what makes a great record? Like, you’ve got all these ingredients for a great recipe, but does that mean something half decent is gonna pop out of the oven? Fucking oath it does.
The best thing about Courtney Barnett is her ability to keep things exciting and diverse, her originality spread evenly throughout her record. Take “Pedestrian At Best” – call her what you will, but Courtney Barnett is nothing but self-aware. Shit, she’s dedicated her lead single to all the @h8rs out there, and it’s the angriest we’ll probably ever come to seeing her, not to mention one hell of a song. The passion gives her a platform to stand and shout from, to feign mediocrity whilst punching out a gut-busting riffs that rival any thing that Chisel came out with. It’s not the only time Courtney brings up her uncertainty, with “Small Poppies” appearing with fantastic lines like “Oh, the calamity, I wanna go to sleep for an eternity…Oh, the humanity, I wanna disappear into obscurity”
Not that her newfound fame has given Courtney reason to move away from her most rewarding aspect, the ability to remark upon modern Australian life with a certain poetry that belies Banjo Patterson channeling Tennessee Williams. She told the small crowd gathered at her album preview that the track “Aqua Profounda” was about a local pool, and album standout “Depreston” is, at least superficially, about the struggling Melbourne suburb of Preston. But it’s all a facade – Courtney Barnett is talking to the average Australian, indeed the average global struggler. She might be plainly talking about the second best city in Australia (FUCK YEAH, SYDNEY!), but the pains of being constantly unsure aren’t reserved to places with shitty coffee. This is the kinda ideology that permeates the record and by the pubes of Brad Pitt, it works out well.
Courtney Barnett was always going to be making a fairly large statement with her debut album, and the pressure was enormous. And when watching her perform recently, there was a certain skepticism as to how the album would turn out. And sure, she hasn’t reinvented the wheel, but she’s done what she does incredibly well, and with the sort of casual intelligence that can only be applauded. Get on this fucking album. Get around it. Celebrate it. Enjoy it. Seek out her billowing guitars in “Elevator Operator” and “Dead Fox”. Cuddle next to her more-soothing-than-a-six-pack-of-Lozengers voice. Get comfortable with her, and settle in. Ironically, the last lines of the record are, “Lover, I’ve got no idea“. Yeah, well, I’ve got an idea Courtney, I’ve got an idea that you’ve kicked it outta the fucking park.
There seemed to be a few folks out there who have begrudgingly laid down their respect for Courtney Barnett, for the attention she’s brought to #realmusicdownunda. But this record gives the last remaining doubters the fuel they need to remove the ‘begrudging’ part of that sentence. We needed a champion, and CB pulled through with flying colours. ‘Sometimes…’ is a fucking great record, and any reservations can be stoically erased. Nup, get fucked, this is sick, fuck you all.
‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’ comes out on Milk! Records on March 20th.