By Cait Brennan, June 2015 Issue.

Courtney Barnett

Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Mom + Pop Music | 

“Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you,” out singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett shouts on her new stream-of-consciousness single “Pedestrian At Best.” A lot of people are putting Barnett on a pedestal right now. In the past month or so, the Australian indie phenom has been featured on Ellen, played South By Southwest, named Amazon’s 2015 Artist To Watch and is on her first American tour – and, oh yeah, she just made one of the best albums of the year. The queer indie rock of Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is like nothing you’ve ever quite heard.

Barnett has a totally unique lyrical style that’s hard to put in context, but it’s magnificent – fearless, brutally honest observations of life. It almost feels like you’re just hearing her thoughts. She’s got an unpretentious voice that is hauntingly expressive and totally non-showbiz. And the music is like an entirely new iteration of indie rock, by turns eerily spacious and shoegaze-wall-of-sound intense.

The album’s opener, “Elevator Operator,” is irresistible, with stomps and claps and a great hook, but all the cheesy repetitive pop lyrics you’d expect are replaced with Barnett’s beat-poet storytelling genius, rich with occasionally agonizing and anxiety-packed OCD detail. The spectacular, punky “Pedestrian” leads the rock charge, and it’s not alone; “Aqua Profunda!” would be right at home in late ‘70s London, and the thundering “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” is deadpan riot-grrrl heaven. But Barnett might be at her best on the languid, midtempo tracks like “Small Poppies” and the spare, confessional “Depreston.” With room to breathe, her lyrics have that much more impact. The epic “Kim’s Caravan” plays like a vivid short film, while the simple acoustic “Boxing Day Blues” concludes the set with a wistfulness and regret that will stay with you. Courtney Barnett is an amazing talent and Sometimes I Sit And Think is a vital new work.

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Photo courtesy of The Dinah

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Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

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