courtney barnett – sometimes i sit and think, and sometimes i just sit

4/5

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

British India – Nothing Touches Me

3.5/5

British India lose a little of their edge in an album which is too contrived.

Nothing Touches Me is British India’s fifth full-length release. It seems not too long ago when their debut Guillotine was unleashed. Since then they have delighted with their raw but well-crafted rock. The band has recently stated this album feels the most like a studio album they’ve ever had. It sounds like it too and it’s not necessarily a good thing.

The record begins beautifully with Spider Chords, a great slow-then-fast opener which will have classic British India fans cheering. Suddenly is a perfect single to blast while driving down the highway but we hit some roadblocks with Angela and the aptly named Wrong Direction. Angela is way too main-stream for an alternative band like British India; it feels disconnected with anything they’ve previously released. Wrong Direction is an example of why the studio influence is bad for BI. It is excessively formulaic and smooth and falls flat despite Declan’s desperation on the mic. Nothing Touches Me, the title track restores the faith however. At five minutes long it takes us on a journey of all the bands strengths. The rest of the album undulates pleasantly, still uniquely BI but with a new pop rock ballad approach taken on some tracks. The songs are good, with the exception of the soft boiled Lifeguard. The record finishes strong with Right By Your Side, This Is How It Feels and Departure Lounge with a return to traditional BI.

The main issue with the album is that it sounds too planned out, too uniform. The rawness that has made BI so great is missing most of the time. This album doesn’t have the energy of Guillotine, it doesn’t have the song writing of Thieves or Avalanche, and it doesn’t have the emotion of Controller. Trying new things is never a bad idea and this album is still a good album and no doubt it will be great fun live. It just isn’t their best.

Highlight: The short and sweet Spider Chords ties with sing along favourite Suddenly.

*Update: It gets better with multiple listens so add half a point.