Release Date: May 18, 2018
Record label: Mom + Pop Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
“Sometimes I get sad/It's not all that bad,” Courtney Barnett sings on “City Looks Pretty,” a song from Tell Me How You Really Feel. It's a simplistic summation of both her current state of mind and her uncanny ability to pair close-to-the-bone lyrics with joyously infectious power-pop melodies. The album is nowhere near as flippant as that couplet might suggest though.
"I'm not your mother! I'm not your bitch!" drools Courtney Barnett on the opening to the sixth track of Tell Me How You Really Feel. Her voice is devoid of any expression, but, with her distinctive Australian twang, it's still unmistakably hers. Once she hits the climax— "It's all the same/Never change, never change"— the track (also titled "I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch") takes with it the punk inflections which crept in on 2015's Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, and runs away with them.
Courtney Barnett is done telling stories on Tell Me How You Really Feel. The Australian singer-songwriter, ever the detailed narrator, has an uncanny way of slipping in her precocious wit without any notice. But whether you're paying attention or not, Barnett will strike with a bevy of amusing remarks, which often enhance her deviations into different forms of classic rock.
Courtney Barnett has always written from a place of anxiety. "I must confess, I've made a mess / of what should be a small success," she sang on 'Pedestrian At Best'. On new record 'Tell Me How You Really Feel', Courtney continues to explore feelings of general restlessness - intertwined with a mixture of angst, sadness and everything in between. While 'Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit' was filled with wry lyrical observations about mundane things happening in her daily life, 'Tell Me How You Really Feel' takes a plunge into political and social commentary - Courtney showing her vulnerability more than ever before.
Back in 2013, Courtney Barnett covered Kanye West’s 'Black Skinhead' on Australian radio as a guitar-charged glam-grunge stomp, reframing its outrage in her bedhead Melbourne white-girl flow. It was a questionable yet telling move for a fellow verbose storyteller, delivered just as her single "Avant Gardener" – a deceptively offhand first-person account of an asthma attack – announced the arrival of a rare talent. Now a bona fide indie-rock heroine, Barnett has made a second LP that occasionally recalls her early come-to-Yeezus session.
"Take your broken heart, turn it into art," Barnett introduces on "Hopefulessness". Over the course of her second album's ten tracks, that's exactly what she has done. Disregarding the romantic notions of pain and creativity, Tell Me How You Really Feel reflects on the mundanity and the everyday realisms of these emotions, lyrical witticisms taking form as words of self-comfort.
Courtney Barnett doesn't hold anything back on Tell Me How You Really Feel. Picking up where 2015’s debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit left off, it’s another notch on Barnett's already impressive belt, all blunt lyrics and pared-back melodies, revealing along the way the unique voice behind her increasingly recognised name. Lyrics are the centrepiece, and crowning glory, of Barnett's music, and Tell Me… works well as a collection of poetry, or a series of short stories.
"No-one's born to hate - we learn it somewhere along the way." This is the sombre note on which Australian slacker-queen Courtney Barnett begins her second album, amid heavy-hearted, Nirvana-indebted guitar. It's a typically astute observation from a singer-songwriter who is carving a career out of them: Barnett's speciality is picking meat off the bones to expose the emotional skeletons of life's seemingly mundane happenings. Both her 2013 double-EP 'A Sea Of Split Peas' and 2015 debut album 'Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit' established her as funny and candid - and a cracking storyteller.
To download, click "Share" and right-click the download icon | iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: Courtney Barnett returns with her sophomore full-length after taking America by storm in 2015, touring behind her head-turning debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, and electrifying late night with gloriously messy performances on Saturday Night Live. With a rare lyrical gift and propensity for blowing the windows clean out of the garage, Barnett’s an introspective songwriter who listeners can also air guitar to and head bang alongside. The Good: As expected, Tell Me How You Really Feel still finds Barnett writing “Courtney Barnett” songs, but there's an unmistakable growth in the Aussie's compositions.
Unbeknownst to some in her ever-growing fanbase, Courtney Barnett began her career in grunge band Rapid Transit. Though the Australian singer went solo and veered towards an alternative rock style, she always retained that grunge sensibility. On her debut LP she mixed incredibly catchy riffs with interesting and tongue-twisting lyrics. The result was a set of rock earworms that stuck themselves deep in the recesses of your head.
The most Courtney Barnett line on Courtney Barnett's second album is a quote from an online troll. "He said, 'I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and spit out better words than you,'" she recalls, on "Nameless Faceless," and then offers an uncharacteristically cocksure response in a shruggy sing-song: "But you didn't. " The anonymous critic's putdown assumes that Barnett's witty early EPs and debut album cemented her style, making it ripe for parody.
Courtney Barnett specializes in miniatures, which is why her 2015 debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, was such a wonder: with barbed words and gnarled guitars, she made everyday minutiae seem compelling. Three years in the making -- it was delayed in part due to a 2017 collaboration with Kurt Vile -- the 2018 sequel, Tell Me How You Really Feel, plays like the flip image of its predecessor. What once was captivating now feels indifferent, delivered with a shrug instead of a snarl.
Don't say Courtney Barnett didn't warn you. "Put me on a pedestal and I'll only disappoint you," she sang on her acclaimed 2015 debut album, words that were often interpreted as being aimed at her fans and a music industry that saw her as a star in the making. That self-deprecating modesty is one of the virtues that makes Barnett's songs feel so tangible, that bring a glint of "That could've happened to me" recognition.
Rating: NNNN Sometimes the most laid-back-seeming people are the ones dealing with the most anxiety and self-doubt. Courtney Barnett's drawling Australian accent, short-story writer's eye for observation and rambling guitar compositions have often mischaracterized her as a zenned-out millennial slacker guru. But underneath her laconic, ultra-specific slice-of-life songs has always been intense introspection.
The shambling jangle (shangle?) of 2015's 'Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit' evoked the warmer end of the Britpop memories, lurching about with the gleeful freedom of a Graham Coxon solo effort. And, just as with that particular era, a scuzzier landscape of self-doubt and turmoil was ushered in when the good times stopped. Courtney Barnett's combined knack for wonky melodies and dextrous vowel deployment remain, but the textures are a little more ragged and the tone rather dour on this second studio set.
Few songwriters capture the power and the humor of the mundane as well as Courtney Barnett. On her first two releases, the smashing double EP "A Sea of Split Peas" from 2013 and the uneven "Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit" from 2015, that seemed to be her calling — taking droll account of the small crises we face and the subtle personality differences we marry into. In language stylized but seemingly extemporaneous, and from a perspective of ironic distance, she brought us into the ordinary but laden moments of her life.