Aussie singer swaps witty ob­ser­va­tions for oblique an­guish and bet­ter songs.

Q (UK) - - Contents - CHRIS CATCH­POLE

The Aussie singer’s sly ob­ser­va­tions re­main in place but with added soul­bar­ing sec­ond time around.


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?”

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