Mixing witty, often hilarious, occasionally even heartbreaking observations with devastating self-assessment, Courtney Barnett’s debut album, ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit’, cements her standing as one of the most distinctive and compelling voices in indie rock. These songs reveal not only an assured songwriter and guitar player, but also an artist who in just a few years has already proved highly influential.
Nirvana were a pop group trapped in the body of a new-wave band. Their uncanny ability to write perfect pop is evidenced not just by their popularity, but by how often they’re covered. Also, you can whistle their tunes while you’re popping to get a pint of milk.
It’s not often that someone with such popular appeal can also retain so much credibility. Courtney Barnett pulls this trick off with alacrity.
Her lyrics are reminiscent of early Dylan. No, seriously. Compare History Eraser to Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream. And the densely-packed poetry continues throughout her debut EP (an album in all but name), and her official first foray Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.
Like Dylan, her loquacious lyrics are used to tell tales of the everyday. We can identify with her mundane adventures. She looks like one of us, and sounds lazily funny like we’d love to sound if we could.
The crowd reacts well to Depreston – a paean to the indescribable stupidity of estate agents.
Pedestrian At Best, very much her Smells Like Teen Spirit, goes down gloriously too. Sadly she shoots too early, and when the tempo drops, the crowd, understandably, gets restless. It’s mean to say it, but she really would be better off doing the noodling around during the more upbeat, well-known songs rather than the b-sides.
Still, as Barnett drawls charismatically through her set, full of distortion and swagger, I’m happy. But I’ll patiently await more of the killer (which is there on record), with a bit less filler.