Courtney Barnett

***Opinions in this article are those of @KralTunes, and not necessarily shared by Tonight At Dawn***

Courtney Barnett is the type of artist that is rarely seen around these musical parts these days: a clever lyricist with an actual message to convey. Her newest album, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, has been widely anticipated by critics and music scenesters for quite some time.  For her sake, I hope her offering is enough to please the Indie Rock Gods!

Opener ‘Elevator Operator’ is a ridiculously catchy tune, in spite of the protagonists’ monotonous life cycle and dead-end job:

“Feeling sick at the sight of his computer,

He dodges his way through the Swanston commuters,

Rips off his tie,

Hands it to a homeless man,

Sleeping in the corner of a metro bus stand and he screams,

‘I’m not going to work today,

Going to count the minutes that the trains run late,

Sit on the grass building pyramids out of Coke cans””

First single ‘Pedestrian At Best’ is already a contender for song of the year, and the point in the album where the boss lady over @tonightatdawn started to take notice.  Its sarcastic-tinged lyrics and scruffy guitars harken back to the early-mid 90’s. It also possesses one of the more enduring choruses I’ve heard in a while:

“Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you,

Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you,

Give me all your money,

and I’ll make some origami,

honey I think you’re a joke,

but I don’t find you very funny”

Guitar solos are abound on the amazing ‘Small Poppies’; it’s a 7-minute bleary epic that immediately takes me back to MAZZY STAR (not sure if this is apropos, since I only know a handful of her material, but these are my thoughts in my own head, so butt out!). I especially enjoy the very last line: “I dreamed I stabbed you with a coat hanger wire (all my married peeps out there know this feeling, amirite?!?!)  If it wasn’t for the awesome-sauce lead single, this would be the album’s best cut.

While some of these songs may sound rhythmically simplistic, its Ms. Barnett’s lyrics that elevate this set of songs into something memorable.  She has a great knack for turning the mundane of everyday life into poetry.  ‘Depreston’ turns a young couple buying their first home into an internal dialogue about the previous elderly owners:

“Then I see the handrail in the shower,

a collection of those canisters for coffee tea and flour,

And a photo of a young man in a van in Vietnam,

And I can’t think of floorboards anymore,

whether the front room faces south or north,

And I wonder what she bought it for.”

Courtney Barnett even manages to touch on more wide reaching societal issues (ENVIRONMENTALIST NERD ALERT!!). ‘Dead Fox’ touches on the shark cull of Australia:

“More people die on the road than they do in the ocean,

Maybe we should mull over culling cars instead of sharks.”

While ‘Kim’s Caravan’ hits on the Great Barrier Reef:

“There’s a paper on the ground,

it makes my headache quite profound,

As I read it out aloud,

It said “The Great Barrier Reef,

it ain’t so great anymore,

It’s been raped beyond belief,

the dredgers treat it like a whore.”

Courtney ends this entrée with a 1-2 punch of despair with the aforementioned track, ‘Boxing Day Blues’, an ode to an over-aspiring partner, whose ideal they will not match. Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit definitely leaves you sitting and thinking.

Lyrically, this is one of the more exceptional albums live head in quite some time.  The music complements the verses almost perfectly every time, making this an early favorite for album of the year contestant, and my new Australian rock music ambassador (move over, ACDC)!!!

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