The best way to describe the mindset of Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett would be “ambivalent”. Releasing her first studio album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Barnett is reminiscent of the wit of Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch with the grunge influence and album name wit of Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan.
“There’s something about the way she sings where I feel like I know that person, just from her inflection. I know women like that,” says Britt Daniel of the band Spoon in an article for the New York Times on Courtney Barnett. “Her songs are fairly simple in their construction, and they’re carried by her lyrics, the way she finds humor in the mundane. When she sings, you can see the rhythm of her language, the way it expresses her personality. And it wouldn’t be right if it were all exactly on pitch.”
Barnett writes like Paul McCartney & John Lennon did during “Paperback Writer” or “A Day in the Life,” where the song really isn’t about anything meant to be thought provoking, just everyday things, simple stories, and those little thoughts in the back of everyone’s minds. “It just really interests me, those tiny little moments that could easily just pass you by,” says Barnett. “Sometimes they are probably a lot more important than we give them credit for. That time you dropped your watch down a drain on Main Street could be a turning point for the rest of your life.”
Courtney writes songs like those little tiny moments as well, stating, “every time I write a song, I feel like it pops out of me like a mistake and I wonder how it happened, and I hope it will happen again next time.” And whether it’s about the dreary yet still interesting life of an elevator operator, self doubt, insomnia, love, depression, disappointing people, trying to impress a guy at the pool, taking care of the environment, or dealing with your introverted qualities, Barnett tackles that voice in the back of your head. Her music is highly relatable and enjoyable because hey, it’s what you’re thinking anyway.