From the ages of eight to thirteen, I lived in a small town smack in the middle of the Australian outback. It was 4 hours in any direction to the nearest town. Maybe its something about living in a country that supports some of the most poisonous creatures in the world, and regular heats high enough to turn your feet to bacon, but I still have yet to meet a culture more chilled out than Australians. (Maybe Hawaiians, but you get my point).
This week, Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett has released her highly anticipated sophomore album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (which for brevity’s sake, shall be referred to as Sometimes from here on out). The patently Australian chill that was present in her first album still rings true, while lazily wandering into new musical territory. There’s a warmth present in her tunes that beg for the album to be enjoyed on a couch, or front porch. Even the punchier tracks like “Dead Fox” or the lead single “Pedestrian at Best” have a “neighborhood BBQ” vibe to them.
Were these lyrics left to anyone else, they’d come off clumsy and blunt. Barnett has an innate ability for turning mundane observations into nuanced and highly relatable stories. One of the grungier tracks, “Kim’s Caravan” is a zombie-crawling condemnation of the ecological state of the world. Barnett likens herself to the deteriorating landscape, and that listeners should “take what you want from me.” Those familiar with the The Double EP are no stranger to Barnett’s environmental bend, but Sometimes heralds the same message, with immediacy, and the urgency of an artist yearning to get out new work.
I admit, I was hoping for something a little noisier from Barnett closer to “Pedestrian at Best.” What we have is a beachy and biting record, coming in a travel-sized 11-track package. Its soulful and crunchy, if not a little predictable. Barnett will join Spoon and The Decemberists at Red Rocks, May 21st.