Courtney Barnett

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Mom + Pop

Mar 20, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Just where did Courtney Barnett come from? One moment she's an anonymous Australian singer/songwriter with a tangled mop of hair, the next she's at the helm of the new grunge revival. For someone who has released only a fewrelatively impressiveEPs, it has been a meteoric rise.

Word of mouth has played its part. Her no-bullshit approach to live outings has won an ever-expanding stream of admirers, while self-deprecating cuts like the cranky "Avant Gardener" undoubtedly chime a chord with the less surefooted of the millennial generation.

But whether Barnett's rising star will shine long-term remains to be seen. Her ineloquently titled debut full-length certainly doesn't give us many clues. On the one hand, its contents are spiky, prissy, and riff-smothered; the sound of an apathetic 20-something detached from modern excess. On the other, it's a frustrating trip of unambitious pastiche.

When it's good, it's very good. "Pedestrian at Best" is a riotous fever of fuzz-bombing guitar that has Barnett wailing, "I think you're a joke, but I don't find you very funny." At the other end of the spectrum, "Depreston" melts into gorgeous low-key strains that showcase unforeseen tenderness.

But for every nugget like "Boxing Day Blues," there's the insipid clang of "Aqua Profunda!" or the equally lifeless "An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in NY)"each a spirit-zapping haze of limp melody. And while debut albums are rarely perfect, you can't help but feel this one could benefit from some stringent quality control.

So perhaps the question isn't where Courtney Barnett came from, but where is she going? For now, we're still none the wiser. (











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March 22nd 2015

Indie rock slacker-extraordinaire Courtney Bartnett sees the same things as you and I do. But what she notices is different.