Courtney Barnett’s music isn’t difficult, but she does not write a song for it to be complex — she writes it to be good.
But that’s what makes her music so memorable, especially her first full-length release . Courtney Barnett does not just write songs; she writes stories. The stories she tells aren’t complex. They’re everyday experiences that she translates into emotional pieces of music.
“,” from Sometimes I Just Sit, features a man named Oliver Paul who decides not to go to work one day and meets a woman on an elevator who assumes he’s suicidal. He’s not, he tells her, he’s just coming up to the roof to unwind.
Stories like those are littered throughout Barnett’s first album. She writes loosely structured stories that sound like personal anecdotes about life and how to live it. The album sounds like listening in on someone else’s conversations. It’s an eavesdrop into Barnett’s life and her beliefs.
In “,” Barnett finds herself house shopping in Preston because she does not need to live around coffee shops anymore. The underwhelming house she finds herself in was previously owned by an elderly woman who passed away, and her life is evident through what she left behind. Courtney will not be living in that home.
The song itself is sad but with a sense of humor. “Depreston” is exactly what it sounds like: Preston is depressing. The song’s lyrics aren’t overwhelmingly sad, though. It’s a subdued sadness, still sweet and quirky, but with melancholy guitars that help the song’s lyrics.
Whether any story on the album is true or not is irrelevant. What is important, however, is that Courtney Barnett can transform a very average, everyday event into a truly sad or interesting story. She’s half songwriter, half storyteller.
Her vocals suit the way her songs are structured. Barnett’s singing is unconventional — it’s not quite singing, but it’s not talking either. She mumbles her way through her short stories, her Australian accent proudly on display.
Other Australian bands, like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard or Tame Impala, don’t use their accents to their advantage. But Courtney Barnett doesn’t suppress her accent. Instead, she flaunts it, giving her music a uniquely Australian tone.
Her accent and storytelling makes her music sound as though she’s telling a story from her day. Her music is purely Courtney Barnett, but it’s not intimate. Her stories aren’t deeply personal, but she doesn’t hide from the listener. Instead, she injects herself into her music, which gives it the personal edge so unique to Courtney Barnett.
Shelby Campbell is a freshman studying journalism and political science at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Let Shelby know by tweeting her @bloodbuzzohioan.