REVIEW: Courtney Barnett “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit”


Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you/Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you.

Courtney Barnett sells herself short with those words in the song “Pedestrian at Best.” Barnett is being put on a pedestal left and right with the release of her first full-length album, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, but based on the lofty reviews the album has received, she hasn’t disappointed many people yet.

The 27-year old Aussie singer-songwriter generated buzz across the indie circuit in recent years and is now receiving heavy praise for her work on Sometimes I Sit, which proves to be an enjoyable romp that continues to establish Barnett as a bright talent with an exciting future.

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Sometimes I Sit quickly throws a number of styles in the listener’s direction, ranging from the upbeat Sheryl Crow-esque rocker “Elevator Operator” to a dash of Nirvana on “Pedestrian at Best” to the slower sway of “Small Poppies,” which almost sounds like Mazzy Star. But while the music sounds good and the riffs catchy, Sometimes I Sit’s high points might come in Barnett’s lyricism and storytelling.

A sense of humor often shines through in Barnett’s writing. The silly but clever opening lines of “Dead Fox” are an example of what to expect on this album:

Jen insists that we buy organic vegetables
And I must admit that I was a little skeptical at first
A little pesticide can’t hurt
Never having too much money, I get the cheap stuff at the supermarket
But they’re all pumped up with shit
A friend told me that they stick nicotine in the apples

Or on “Elevator Operator,” which includes a priceless SimCity reference:

Don’t jump little boy, don’t jump off that roof
You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, you’re still in your youth
I’d give anything to have skin like you
He said “I think you’re projecting the way that you’re feeling
I’m not suicidal, just idling insignificantly
I come up here for perception and clarity
I like to imagine I’m playing SimCity
All the people look like ants from up here
And the wind’s the only traffic you can hear”
He said “All I ever wanted to be
Was an elevator operator, can you help me please?”

But Barnett can get introspective and thoughtful as well, as shown on “Kim’s Caravan”:

We either think that we’re invincible or that we are invisible
When realistically we’re somewhere in between
We all think that we’re nobody but everybody is somebody else’s somebody
Don’t ask me what I really mean
I am just a reflection
Of what you really wanna see
So take you want from me

The songwriting really drives the album, but Sometimes I Sit contains some quality musicianship as well. The soaring guitar in the later half “Small Poppies” helps make the song a highlight of the album:

Sometimes I Sit feels like it tails off slightly towards the end, but overall it’s quite a satisfying collection of songs that gets better with each listen. If this is the first time you’ve heard of Courtney Barnett, chances are it won’t be the last. Check it out on Spotify now.

Courtney Barnett “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” Release Date: March 20, 2015.

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