Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Album Review: Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett’s debut full-length record, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, is full of charm and insecurity.

The charm comes from her delivery. Barnett casually rattles off lyrics sharpened with clear, honest descriptions of the unique anxiety of being in one’s late twenties and not fully understanding who you are. It’s panic attack-inducing stuff that she treats as if it were mundane.

“I don’t know quite who I am, but I’m trying,” she sings on “Small Poppies.” Her battle with identifying who she is and, by extension, realizing her self worth is on full display.

Barnett battles with external expectations as a source of value. “I love all of your ideas. You love the idea of me,” she sings on “Boxing Day Blues,” but earlier on “Elevator Operator” she pushes back: “Don’t put me on a pedestal, I’ll only disappoint you.”

The album’s truths come interspersed in some of the most compelling description and story-telling on an album in 2015. “Depreston” is a fantastic example where Barnett narrates her search for a house. She starts out describing everything she’s seeing and then begins to think about the previous owner’s death. The structure mirrors how anxiety can creep in at any moment.

Barnett’s lyrics are the highlight of the album, but her breezy, ramshackle rock and roll provides a catchy foundation. The music feels a bit under-developed on pieces of the album, but the stretch from “Dead Fox” to “Debbie Downer” is flawless and fun. “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” captures the spirit of the album in one compact package.

Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit is a stellar debut for Barnett and an album that should be considered one of the best of 2015.

Courtney Barnett will open for Alabama Shakes at Koka Booth Amphitheater on June 10. Tickets start at $35 in advance.

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