Aussie singer swaps witty observations for oblique anguish and better songs.
The Aussie singer’s sly observations remain in place but with added soulbaring second time around.
COURTNEY BARNETT TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL MARATHON ARTISTS, OUT 18 MAY
When Courtney Barnett first ambled into view in 2013, the scrappy indie rock of her music tended to take a back seat to her lyrics. The Sydney-born singer has a gift for spinning the tiny, mundane details of her life into rambling, self-deprecating and frequently very funny stories. On her second album, Barnett redresses that balance. For one, Tell Me How You Really Feel is notably short on laughs. Songs about mowing the lawn or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room have been replaced with something more opaque. The detritus of arguments and interpersonal problems floating to the surface rather than forming any coherent narratives. “I try my best to be patient, but I can only put up with so much shit,” she rages amid sparks of TV-static distortion on I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch. Coming via Barnett’s thick accent and deadpan delivery, such moments of turmoil still sound like receiving a long- distance phone call from a mate, but it’s now couched within a much stronger set of songs. Her debut album’s primarycoloured backdrop having been swapped out for a richer, more nuanced palette. Opener Hopefulessness has echoes of Nirvana’s In Utero as its ominously twisting riff winds up into howls of feedback, and there are grunge-era parallels throughout in the guitars that crackle alongside her melodies. The Breeders’ Deal sisters even pop up on backing vocals during the cheerily-titled Crippling Self Doubt And General Lack Of Self Confidence, the track’s bouncy fuzz-pop offsetting the nail-chewing anxieties within. It’s a clear sidestep away from Barnett’s original M.O., but feels no less rewarding for it. Not least on closer Sunday Roast – a welcome breath of languid spaciousness and comforting choruses that offer a gentle resolve after all the jagged soul-baring. Listen To: Nameless, Faceless | Hopefulessness | Sunday Roast
Courtney Barnett: “Do you have the jacuzzi maintenance guy’s number?”