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Greatest hits: album reviews

Music review: the greatness of Courtney Bennett

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 April, 2015, 10:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2015, 4:49pm

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Courtney Barnett
Marathon Artists Ltd

On Out of the Woodwork, the lead track from Courtney Barnett's debut The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, the garage-pop chanteuse sang, "It must be tiring trying so hard, to look like you're not really trying at all/ I guess if you're afraid of aiming too high, then you're not really gonna have too far to fall", a relationship lament that could easily have been a self-depreciating critique of her own slacker psychedelia.

As I'm sure the Melbourne singer-songwriter would be first to admit, transforming the mundane into the profound and poignant takes hard work and a special talent - thankfully, Barnett has buckets of this.

Amid the wistful indie air, she certainly sees the world with unique eyes. Her charming stream-of-consciousness songs are laced with an extremely dry wit, her wry observations a reminder of a fresh-faced Alex Turner at his best. "Put me on a pedestal and I'll only disappoint you/ Tell me I'm exceptional, I promise to exploit you," she spits out on the super fuzzed-up single Pedestrian At Best, an obvious nod to her 1990s grunge heroes, Nirvana. On stomping opener Elevator Operator, the protagonist on the rooftop is not suicidal, "just idling insignificantly".

The compelling lyrics and their languid delivery are obviously the stars of the show here, but this album is far more than showy, clever wordplay. The Courtney Barnetts, the cheekily named backing band featuring Drones guitarist Dan Luscombe, aren't just here to flesh out the reflective down-to-earth sounds: they add a raw, shambolic live feel to the songs, the sprawling blues crescendo of Small Poppies equal to any of Barnett's downbeat drawls.

Sometimes I just need to sit and listen to greatness like this.