Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
  • THURSDAY, APRIL 09, 2015

  • Posted by: Jason Greenspan

Courtney Barnett looks and sounds like she should have a semi-reoccurring role on Comedy Central's Broad City, playing music as Abbi and Ilana's wacky hijinx unfold. She's got that too-hip-for-her-own-good aesthetic, and her songs demonstrate an intelligent aloofness that's so relevant it's slightly annoying. She really is taking off, though; she's performed on Ellen and been lauded by Rolling Stone and The New York Times, and with good reason. Her debut full-length album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit, is thoughtful, and her lyrics tell interesting, complex stories.

The first thing that I noticed about Barnett is that she doesn't mask her Australian accent, and I love it. I could listen to her say mundane words like "lady," and "residue" literally all day long. And that's the other wonderful aspect of her music; you can simply giggle at her pronunciation and bounce around to her carefree sound -- having a ball -- or you can listen deeply and get lost in her wordy contemplation and narratives -- gaining a more thorough perspective on her message. The opener, "Elevator Operator," introduces us to the fed-up 20 yr. old Oliver Paul, meticulously chronicling the details of his day leading up to a misunderstanding on a rooftop. Barnett sees fit to include, "He's well aware he's dropping soy linseed Vegemite crumbs everywhere," and that's when you realize that her music is special.

Her sonic aesthetic is just as important as what she's actually saying. Steadily phlegmatic, and constantly teetering between half-sung run-on sentences and gritty, megaphone preaching, she manages to mix investment with "I don't give a fuck." It's certainly more of the latter in "Pedestrian At Best," in which Barnett beckons, "Give me all your money, and I'll make origami honey." I think I'll hold on to my cash, but thanks anyway, Court. And she's delved into uncharted rhythmic territory for her genre; at times it sounds like she's spitting a verse or reciting slam-poetry.

She cares but she doesn't care, at once forthcoming and a master of convolution. Her expressive candidness in "An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless In New York)" and the hyper-lazy "Small Poppies" indicates that Barnett is not a heartless automaton like she sometimes would like you to believe. When you peel back the finish, you find layers of emotional complexity.

And, as if there wasn't enough going on lyrically, this album is immensely diverse musically. She hits washed-out surf-rock in "Depreston," takes a detour toward proper indie-rock in "Dead Fox," and stops for 90's alternative in "Pedestrian at Best" (see "Lump" by Presidents Of The USA). That's not to say that this is a divisive collection, though; collectively, it has a strongly cohesive and identifiable sound, amplified by the incredibly keen production.

I was earnestly surprised by Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit. Aside from being an artfully crafted bundle of music, it's bafflingly quotable. I could have written this whole review based on ridiculous sentences that Barnett rifles off as if they were nothing special. With this album, she demonstrates that she's a human immensely in tune with universal emotions, and that she's a ninja wordsmith capable of expressing these themes like none other.

Easily one of 2015's best albums so far, Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit should not be missed. Pick up your copy here, and watch Courtney clown around in her video for "Pedestrian At Best" below.


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