Despite some dreary content you can’t help but want to hang out with Courtney Barnett.
This may be the Victorian’s debut full length album but her talent and sound have already been well established with singles such as History Eraser, Avant Gardener, and Pickles From The Jar. For the majority of this album it won’t surprise with the way it sounds, with a couple of brilliant exceptions. It won’t cease to please her fans either. There’s something very endearing about Courtney’s deadpan stream of consciousness delivery and her elaborate self-critique. The opening three tracks; Elevator Operator, Pedestrian At Best, and An Illustration Of Loneliness (Sleepless In New York) display her energy, dry wit, and way with words. She has a vocabulary but is just as skilled at turning everyday language into quirky phrases. Pedestrian At Best is an early highlight, the writing is superb.
The album covers many topics but the main three would be; consumerism and the environment (Dead Fox and Kim’s Caravan), middle class society (Elevator Operator and Depreston), and Courtney herself (Aqua Profunda!, Pedestrian At Best, and Boxing Day Blues).
Quite rocky throughout with her all ‘aussie’ accent, you think you have Courtney Barnett pegged but then comes along Depreston and Kim’s Caravan. In these two tracks the accent is less noticeable and her voice quite beautiful as she really decides to sing. Depreston is a wonderful song. It’s hard to describe in my inexperience but it feels old and nostalgic from the get go and is best listened to driving around your local towns. There is one particular section of this song that brings tears to the eyes because the image is so relatable and, well, depressing. It will hit home hard for some people. Kim’s Caravan begins and you think the cd has ejected and the radio is on. The opening sounds like a completely different artist, eerie and creepy. Then Courtney’s voice joins in, sad and drained here, hooking you until the end. This song isn’t entirely pleasant , especially when she remarks the Great Barrier Reef has been “raped beyond belief” and “treated like a whore”. Nevertheless you can’t stop listening.
The album leaves us knowing she will probably become quite an admired artist, outside of the mainstream of course, and that it would be very cool to hear her perform a Nirvana cover.
Highlight: Definitely Depreston for me but for new fans, perhaps Pedestrian At Best