Sitting And Thinking About Courtney Barnett’s “Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit”

Listening to Courtney Barnett’s debut album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, is like running into an old and amusing friend who greets you mid-conversation with some anecdote that soon has you in stitches.  For a 27-year old who emerged from the Antipodes in 2013 and has previously released only The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, we certainly know a lot about her: that she has allergies, tries hard to alleviate her parents’ concerns, worries about the little expenses, can be seduced by someone singing Triffids songs.  One album and a pair of EPs in, she’s an old friend.

Her music’s familiar too.  The playing on The Double EP brought to mind that first Joe Jackson album, or This Year’s Model: powerhouse, whip-smart power pop straight from the garage.  With what the Germans call sprechgesang — spoken singing — she’s not so much a singer as a loquacious poet who puts her words, and her facility for rapid-fire delivering of perfect couplets, to real rock’n’roll.  She is beguiling, this year’s model indeed.

Her choruses have the radio-ready symmetry of early Sheryl Crowe, and we don’t mean that as putdown.  Maybe early Liz Phair places her more precisely, though that’s unfair to both: Barnett is not the product of Oberlin and upper-middle class neuroses.  She’s an earthy, unaffected observer whose writing is so compelling, and songs so strong, we can listen to her sprechgesang ’til the wallabies come home.

The harmonies of her choruses is one of the reasons why “Avant Gardener” — which tells the tale of how cleaning up the backyard got her sent to the hospital in the back on an ambulance — could have caught such 2014 momentum.  Maybe the best way of thinking about her new album — the best way of sitting and thinking about Sitting And Thinking — is to compare the songwriting to the best of the Stones’ Emotional Rescue: small songs, few particularly profound, but fun and infectious.  Her music is informed by punk, occasionally floating on Farfisa, mastered so it lurks a nanometer behind the rubber cover of an ear bud. Courtney Barnett’s songs are funny and gorgeous and as focused on what’s just happened to her as a Karl Ove Knausgaard “novel.” Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit propels a talent onto stages near you soon, and in your playlist for life.

2 Responses to “Sitting And Thinking About Courtney Barnett’s “Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit””

  1. […] singer and guitarist’s debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, as readers of Tulip Frenzy well know.  Sometimes we prefer her real introduction to the States, 2014’s The Double EP: A Sea Of […]

  2. […] live that we fully came to appreciate Sometimes I Sit And Think… And Sometimes I Just Sit. The release of that album sure caused us to sit and think, to dwell for some time trying to get our mind around it, for after months of babbling to everyone […]

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