Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit Album Review
Milk! Records, Marathon Artists, House Anxiety, Mom+Pop Music
Released March 20, 2015
Genre: Garage Rock, Indie Rock, Singer-Songwriter
The first Courtney Barnett song I ever heard was the single “Avant Gardener”, off her third EP release. Other portions of that release, The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas, were quite bluesy while “Avant Gardener” offered up a grungier vibe. It is this sound that is showcased in Barnett’s first studio album Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.
As a fan of Barnett’s more mournful bluesy sound, at first I was put off by her newest release. The first track “Elevator Operator” is a bit of a punch to the gut. However, I missed her sweet and quirky vocal melodies, almost Shins-like in quality, found on earlier songs such as “Don’t Apply Compression Gently” or “Anonymous Club”. Initially, I had mixed feelings regarding the increased level of grunge and beating lyrics exhibited in Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. It’s not that this sound hadn’t appeared in Barnett’s previous releases, in fact, it was the very sound that many loved her for. However, she definitely explored her sound and lyrical style, taking it to the next level in her new album. In retrospect, I’m not at all surprised by the direction Barnett took, because after all it was her song “Avant Gardener” (similar in style) that brought her recognition.
To my relief, some of her quieter sound is preserved and appears in the second half of the album on songs such as “Depreston”, “Kim’s Caravan”, and “Boxing Day Blues”. The sweet, sultry, yearning tone of her voice feels reminiscent of early Cat Power. Her punchier sound has indeed become punchier, which made it easy for me to feel that she had changed completely. However, after a couple listens, I came to the conclusion that Barnett’s new release is not quite so different from her previous as I had originally led myself to believe. If anything, it could be seen as an evolved version of The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas, showing her growth as an artist.
What I hear most in Barnett’s newest release is an artist who has become confident in herself as a musician. Despite my initial reservations regarding Barnett’s new album, I’ve decided what I love most about her upbeat, punchy sound is the confidence she exudes. Her music is youthful, and free- and what reason is there for it to be anything else? The young 26-year-old has created an album that expresses both the freedom and challenge of being young. It will be interesting to see where her work goes as she continues to age and mature as an artist.
The moment in which I finally fell in love with Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit was on my way home to New York, driving through Ohio. I was going 80 miles an hour, staring out at the never ending road in front of me, and in that moment Barnett’s lyrics almost seeming to be propelling my car forward down the road. Although many other things, this album is without a doubt the epitome of good traveling music. Roll down the windows, turn up the stereo, and listen as many times as it takes for you to fall in love with Courtney Barnett. For me, this love came in the realization that the brilliance of her work is its ability to be bold and simple at the same time. She isn’t trying to create something that is bold because of its intricacy or pushing of edges, and in doing so she finds her own sense of originality.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Pedestrian at Best, Depreston, Boxing Day Blues
LEAST FAV TRACKS: Elevator Operator, Small Poppies