When depression is channelled into art, it's usually of the extreme, claustrophobic variety. It's Kendrick Lamar screaming at a hotel mirror on To Pimp A Butterfly, it's The National's Matt Berninger howling 'I'm afraid of everyone'.
But Courtney Barnett is fascinated by a more drab sense of ennui, the one that just lightly pulls at you when you're waiting for an elevator or choosing whether to use the blue or white tap on a water cooler in a showroom.
Her voice is somewhere between a drawl and a whisper, and she lifts up each of her words and just sort of shrugs at them, backing away. Close your eyes and you don't see her recording the vocals in a booth but sat on the arm of a sofa, hungover, holding a cup of tea and singing to amuse herself.
'I used to hate myself but now I think I'm alright' she says on Small Poppies, with self-deprecation also employed on the excellent song title Pedestrian at Best. Earlier in the track she spills 'I'm sure it's a bore being youuuuuu', a line that could have been longer but is all the more cutting for its lethargy. The chorus 'I wanna go out but I wanna stay home' that comes later in the album is nothing short of anthemic, a crystallisation of the motives of a generation anxious to be seen to be having fun but too anxious to go out and actually have it.
The album brings to mind that Ed Ruscha stencil 'PAY NOTHING UNTIL APRIL', taking trite fragments of conversations, isolating them and giving them enough space to ring out and expose their own hollowness.
This is particularly true of Depreston, maybe the best track on the album, which centres on the inherent boredom of looking around houses and is surprisingly devastating. 'It's got a lovely garden, a garage for two cars to park in, or a lot of room for storage if you've just got one,' she intones, mind elsewhere. 'Aren't the pressed metal ceilings great.' I'm in tears and she's talking about furniture.
Reaching the end of the Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit I'm convinced it's a summer album. It belongs in that hour when the sunlight dims, everyone leaves the park, the disposable barbecues are smoking abortively, the makeshift Lilt bottle bong's started to taste like shit and you don't know whether to go back to bed or fritter away your last tenner in town.Reuse content