The Joup Friday Album: Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

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As someone whose preferred style of music (noisy or jangly guitars with catchy hooks) is deeply out of style at the moment, it’s rare that any artist comes along who catches my attention enough for me to even learn their name. I can’t think of an artist who has better managed to catch my attention in the last few years than Courtney Barnett. I heard her first single, “Avant Gardener” on the radio and liked it enough to turn it up every subsequent time I found it on the dial, enough to tell myself, “I should really download that EP so I can listen to it in the car,” but not enough to actually get around to downloading it.

When her first proper album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, came out in 2015, again I told myself “I should really download that album along with the first two EPs,” and again, I just never got around to it. Until now! With another new album just a couple of weeks away, I finally sat down and spent some time with Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Her deadpan delivery of lyrics that frequently celebrate the mundane is far more charming than anything that fits that description has any business being. And it’s all on top of solid enough tunes that I regret having put off getting acquainted for as long as I have.

I’ve never been one to linger over lyrics too much, but Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit has me paying more attention to the words than the notes for a change. The lyrics of this entire album really read like a stream of consciousness diary written by someone whose boring life is at odds with the parade of strangeness in her head. I don’t know if Courtney Barnett actually suffers from mental health issues, but she definitely understands them. She clearly does a lot of introspection and reports back on her findings with more honesty than most people would be comfortable with.

A lot of Barnett’s charm lies in her descriptions of little details like “dropping soy linseed Vegemite crumbs everywhere” or “hair pulled so tight you can see her skeleton,” from “Elevator Operator.” “An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)” features a couplet that I love for reasons I can’t explain – “Watching all the movies, drinking all the smoothies.” I just find it adorable!

Her elevation of the mundane peaks with “Depreston,” a mellow number about coffee making and house hunting. But then there’s “Dead Fox” and it’s description of produce shopping and roadkill. It’s somehow all just so damn charming!

As much as I despise generational divisions and blaming everything on those damn millennials/baby boomers/whatever, I do think part of the reason Courtney Barnett appeals to me so much is that she seems to have the kind of bored, nonchalant self-absorption that was so frequently attributed to artists of Generation X, rather than her millennial peers. The sardonic, deadpan delivery of random observations makes her the Steven Wright of indie rock and I mean that as a huge compliment.

Tagging Katie!

One Response to The Joup Friday Album: Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    I really need to give her more of a chance – I’ve tried to get into her stuff and just not really had it click with me.

    Great write-up, as always Amy!!!

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