Saturday, April 4, 2015

Courtney Barnett stole my soul

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Courtney Barnett's new album, brings her laconic point of view into sharper focus, which is a better commentary on modern living than any I've heard in a long while. Almost like the Wind-Up Birds backing up a cross between Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lykke Li; almost, but not quite.

There's that weird moment when you're trying to decide whether you're hearing a a new and compelling artist, or hipster trash. In some cases the moment drags on for a few days while you touch base with the album, peel away, and later return for more. Eventually, if you're me, you commit to one point of view or the other. I came down on Courtney's side, mostly because the songs are enjoyable on several levels. A good melody and some rhythm guitar is a pretty low threshold of pleasure. Next up is her voice, which is expressive without trying to be histrionic. Peel the onion some more to get into these lyrics from Debbie Downer:

I'm growing older every time I blink my eyes
Boring, neurotic, everything that I despise
We had some lows, we had some mids, we had some highs
Sell me all your golden rules and I'll see
If that's the kind of person that I wanna be
If I'm not happy I'll be glad I kept receipts

I don't ask too much of you
It's true and I can't read your mind

Don't stop listening, I'm not finished yet
I'm not fishing for your compliments

What really gets me stoked about her music is the sheer cheesiness of the instrumentation and arrangements. It proves there is no way I was looking for or even could have imagined an artist with such a unique and weirdly compelling way of expressing herself. And heck, I didn't need that soul anyway.