Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Mom + Pop
Every so often, a new artist comes around who demands your attention. Such was the case in 2013, when Courtney Barnett’s superb single “Avant Gardener," found on her second EP and included on the compilation, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, declared the arrival of an exciting new voice. This week, the Melbourne, Australia native unveils her first full-length album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.
As a musician, Barnett is hard to quickly describe. She is a brilliant lyricist and writes in a style that is both eloquent and street-wise. She has a knack for taking ordinary events and turning them into intriguing melodramas. She is wickedly witty and pens songs that brim with humor and fun, as well as angst and drama. Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is an invigorating, edgy rock album, abundant with Barnett's detailed thoughts, opinions, and candid observations.
Barnett delivers her songs in a dry, deadpan vocal style that recalls Chrissie Hynde or Liz Phair, but is buoyed by her Aussie accent. Her lyrics are dense, even rambling streams of consciousness, requiring close attention to avoid missing any detail. Those sometimes acerbic and playful words are set to guitar-driven, punk-flecked compositions that demonstrate her affinity for tough garage rockers.
That hard edge is best represented by two of the album’s highlights—the opening stomper “Elevator Operator" and the raving “Pedestrian At Best." The latter is a showcase for Barnett's quirky lines like, “Give me all your money and I’ll make some origami, honey!”
But playing it loud and hard isn’t just what this intriguing songwriter does. “Depreston” is a slower, reflective song about settling into an old, depressing house in need of repair; perhaps this rundown real estate is a metaphor for a relationship in need of care.
In “Dead Fox" she laments that her friend insists on buying organic vegetables while she feels that “a little pesticide can’t hurt." Later, in the same song, Barnett reflects on road kill along the highway and conjures up an image of “a possum Jackson Pollack” that’s “painted on the tar."
There is the occasional moment or two when things drag a bit—as on the seven-minute “Small Poppies”—but Barnett keeps the energy fairly brisk on Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. As evidenced by song titles like “Nobody Really Cares If You Go To The Party”—and the song's tongue-in-cheek suggestion of “Hey, Debbie Downer, turn that frown upside down and just be happy”—you know that Courtney Barnett’s debut album is going to take you on a thoughtful, yet wild ride.
Preview songs and/or buy 'em (all purchases benefit WFUV):