[one_half last=”yes”]COURTNEY BARNETT
Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Label: Milk Records
01. Elevator Operator
02. Pedestrian at Best
03. An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in NY)
04. Small Poppies
06. Aqua Profunda!
07. Dead Fox
08. Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go to the Party
09. Debbie Downer
10. Kim’s Caravan
11. Boxing Day Blues
NBHAP Rating: 4.3/5
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody reading this that we at NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION are harbouring a collective crush on COURTNEY BARNETT. It all began back in 2013, when her double EP crept tendrils into our ears; then we met her, and the swoon continued to blossom. Now she’s blown us out of the water with her debut longplayer; Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. And once you’re done with this review don’t forget to check out our Track-by-Track interview with the lovely lady from earlier this week.
The humble simplicity of the title (despite its syllabic mouthful) points toward BARNETT‘s music on a greater level. Known for her deadpan lyrics and no-nonsense strumming, the humility and everydayness contained within her creations far defies the trajectory of success that she’s been thrust upon in recent months. It’s refreshing and exciting to see an Australian musician receiving such wide recognition for a sound that, in many ways, drips with the suburbia of the nation.
Opening track Elevator Operator specifically references COURTNEY BARNETT‘s adopted hometown of Melbourne throughout. It’s a bright, up-tempo finger that beckons the way into the record’s eleven-track adventure. The lyrics convey a slightly more sombre tale, but with a crooked grin of a twist – it details a boy taking the elevator to the top of a building to check out the view, and being mistaken for an intended suicide. The rhyming is loose and innocent, a steady string of handclap-drums giving it a singalong vibe.
Second number Pedestrian At Best is an immediate highlight and an obvious choice for the album’s key single. The guitar roars and rolls as BARNETT rides over the crest with psychological lilts such as Put me on a pedestal, and I’ll only disappoint you and Tell me I’m exceptional, and I promise to exploit you. The lyrics are timely, considering the huge surge of popularity that the musician’s been riding out in recent months, and they find their way into your own tongue within a couple of repeat plays. The whole thing is static, fuzzy and delicious.
From there we slow down considerably, pulling back into a pair of rollicking waves that lilt BARNETT‘s voice into higher and more delicate octaves. Seven-minute Small Poppies begins in this sway before luxuriating into itself, exploding into a synaesthetic swirl of guitar that lifts and lifts like effervescence striving for the top of a sinkhole. The tension winds tightly and gloriously, back and forth with quiet releases. BARNETT‘s sheer skill with her guitar is laid bare as she eases up the frets like an acrobat practising in the wing of the marquee before the show begins, wild and released, as though nobody’s watching.
Dead Fox is another excellent pop track; there’s nothing fancy here, just solid rocking and a chorus that catches hold and insists that you repeat it during mundane moments of your day, digging in with tiny claws while you wait for the bus or mow the lawn. Nobody Care If You Don’t Go To The Party! brings back that fabulous guitar screech, while Kim’s Caravan stretches out into another seven-minute constant-climax that makes you hold onto your own cheeks, lest they melt away in awe and pleasure. It might well be the most stunning track of the album, brooding and shifting and revealing new colours with each new listen.
To tie things around with a neat ribbon, Boxing Day Blues is a quiet and morose finish. It acts just like the contents in its lyrics; in Australia, Boxing Day is the holiday the day after Christmas Day, when the loungeroom’s littered with wrapping paper and the hangover’s dug its heels in and the consumerist sheen has washed off to weariness and drudgery. It’s soft, warm and slightly goosebumpy.
What’s most exciting about this record is how fantastic the new tracks are going to be live; as we know, BARNETT‘s live performances are a real experience, an all-out thrash and tumble.
‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’ is an absolute gem of a debut, showcasing everything we’ve come to love from Barnett already; clever lyrics sit hand in hand with jawdropping expanses of guitar and a wink of gentle humility.