Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Albums of 2018: Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel

Release Date: May 18, 2018
Produced by Courtney Barnett, Burke Reid, and Dan Luscombe
Special Guests: Kim Deal and Kelly Deal

Side One: Hopefulessness; City Looks Pretty; Charity; Need A Little Time; Nameless, Faceless

Side Two: I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch; Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence; Help Your Self; Walkin' on Eggshells; Sunday Roast

The songs on Courtney Barnett's follow up to her 2015 debut Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, lean towards introspection, self analysis, and weariness.

On the opener "Hopefulessness" Barnett impels listeners to take their broken hearts and turn them into art. The song's steady build up ends with a tea kettle going off and into "City Looks Pretty," a self-deprecating rocker on struggling to live to high expectations we place on ourselves, "Sometimes I get sad/It's Not all that bad/One day, maybe never/I'll Come Around." 

"Charity" may be addressed to a more successful contemporary with a sarcastic chorus "You must be having so much fun."  She feels both envy and sympathy for song's subject, "Meditation just makes you more upset." "Need A Little Time Out" calls for everyone to slow down, take stock, and gather strength. 

Side One ends with the "Nameless, Faceless," a song addressing trolling and fragile masculinity:

Don't You Have Anything Better To Do
I wish that someone could hug you
Must be lonely
Being angry
Feeling over-looked
You sit home alone in the darkness
With all the pent up rage you harness
I'm real sorry
Bout whatever happened to you

Barnett muses on not being able to walk in the park at night and holding the keys between her fingers. Lack of empathy and narcissism are what drives the trolls.

The second side begins with the declarative "I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch," a punk screed that sets a less compromising tone. "Crippling Self Doubt" closes with an anthemic chorus, "I don't know, I don't know anything" that brings catharsis. "Help Your Self"  features another catchy hook, once again pleading with the subject to slow things down. 

Penultimate track "Walkin on Eggshells" speaks to the exhaustion of fighting and not letting things go. On "Sunday Roast" Courtney confesses, "I spend a lot of my time/Doing a whole lot of nothing," a sort of taboo these days. The song ends with a full on McCartneyesque singalong.

Fueled by guitar driven power pop and lyrics with punch, Tell Me How You Really Feel showcases one of the decade's great singer-songwriters. 

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