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Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel (Album Review)

Wednesday, 23 May 2018 Written by Liam Turner

Despite its familiar elements, Courtney Barnett’s mix of Nirvana-aping guitars, Alex Turner-esque observational writing and sun-soaked insouciance have made the Melbourne singer-songwriter one of indie-rock’s freshest and most exciting artists.

Barnett’s new LP, ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’, doesn’t sound quite as newfangled as her first record, ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit’, but it does show an increasingly raw and (even more) reflective side to her work.

She sets the tone early with the creeping opener Hopefulessness, which bubbles and eventually boils under a brooding, plodding rhythm.

Here, lines like “Empty bottle blues / Sleep in different rooms” and “You know what they say, no one is born to hate” really serve to reinforce the record’s general lugubriousness.

This second outing also shows Barnett at her most angry. On Nameless, Faceless, it may initially seem as if she wants to help the subject of the song - “I’m really sorry ‘bout whatever happened to you” - but a deeper dive reveals righteous disdain.

She takes aim at internet trolls, keyboard warriors and the wider issues of domestic violence and misogyny. “Men are scared women will laugh at them / Women are scared that men will kill them,” she spits on the distortion-drenched chorus, paraphrasing Canadian writer Margaret Atwood.

Most Barnett tracks carry an element of vexation, but it’s usually offset by a quirky one-liner or self-deprecating aside. On I’m Not Your Mother, I‘m Not Your Bitch, though, she’s trading in pure, unbridled emotion. “I can only put up with so much shit,” she hisses above a tortured layer of ‘In Utero’-style guitars. Coming in at one minute 50 seconds, it’s the record’s shortest track.

Barnett rounds things off on a lighter note with Sunday Roast, as though she has purged herself during the running order. “Keep on keepin’ on,” she sings amid sleepy, War On Drugs-like instrumentation. As a final statement it’s like pressing reset, but the record as a whole doesn’t quite possess the same sense of originality as her 2015 debut.

Courtney Barnett Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue May 29 2018 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Sat June 02 2018 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Mon June 04 2018 - MANCHESTER Academy
Tue June 05 2018 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Wed June 06 2018 - LONDON Roundhouse

Click here to compare & buy Courtney Barnett Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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