Courtney Barnett: Making “the Everyday” Cool

One of Australia’s most buzz worthy artists at the moment, Courtney Barnett, is to drop her long awaited debut album this coming Friday. Following on from her two EP releases of last year (collected as one, A Sea of Split Peas), the term “highly anticipated” doesn’t quite do the hype for Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit justice. She’s everywhere at the moment, and rightly so.

Unashamedly Australian, Barnett does little to hide or camouflage her accent or genuine typical Aussie nature. Instead, she embraces it. She embraces it wholeheartedly which, I believe, is part of the reason for her initial success. In a world that is drastically affected by Americanisation, Barnett is there shrugging in her flanny talking about Vegemite and the suburb of Preston. She has brought a true, accessible and likeable side of Australia to the world (especially to America) and has received international love in return. Yeah girl.

Astute observations and candid storytelling is the basis for Sometimes I Sit and Think…, coupled with enough garage rock/at times pop to keep it pleasing for the alternative crowd, but easy enough on the ears to tap into the mainstream. It’s a brilliant album that is cleverly created to see Barnett realise the extent of her success, but whether that was intentional or not remains to be seen. Totally self-deprecating and intensely personal, you can really feel the bewildered terror and confusion Barnett has in regards to her success.

From the negative self reflection of first single Pedestrian at Best, to the not surprisingly depressing Depreston, Barnett is dealing with a lot of shit. Shit we all deal with. This is where her brilliant songwriting skills come into play, in which each track is completely relatable and accessible for the listener. Pondering over whether hayfever could result in a car crash in Dead Fox, or grappling with the inner debate of whether she should go out or stay home in Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party, she continues to sing about everyday things that border on trivial had they not been turned into the narrative Barnett can create.

However, it’s the slower tracks like Small Poppies or the eerie environmental warning of Kim’s Caravan that show a different side of Courtney that is different to what we heard in 2013, and in other tracks on the record. It shows glimmers of other capabilities; of restraint, less-is-more stylings and bigger picture concepts that show she can do more than mull over her day to day life. It’s these tracks that show promise for her, as she continues her rapid rise to fame and success – her days of house hunting in cheaper suburbs are numbered, as are her days of writing about such events.

I admit I was concerned on first listen that Courtney Barnett may have been a one-trick pony, and that there is only so far you can take daily musings, but I was wrong. Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit is a brilliant first album, showing that there is still just as much promise of what’s to come as there is concrete proof that she’s the real deal. Courtney Barnett has made being normal and doing mundane or typical things cool and interesting – something that isn’t easy to do. It will be interesting to continue to watch her, but I have every bit of faith she’ll pull through, just as all of us normal folk do!

Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit is out Friday, 20th march via Milk! Records/Remote Control.