This album is exactly what the best case scenario was for Courtney Barnett. After a couple of successful EPs and debut album, then a solid release with fellow slacker rock icon Kurt Vile the stage was perfectly set for “Tell Me How You Really Feel.”
Barnett’s last record “Sometimes I Sit and Think…” was very, very good. It was hard to imagine her next solo album would eclipse it but it has. Right away “Hopefulessness” is a great brooding opener that builds to the songs that will soon follow. The line from the song “take your broken heart and turn it into art” sums up the record nicely too. The lackadaisical approach Barnett is known for is delivered perfectly on “Need A Little Time” as the electric guitars ring in the background. On “Nameless, Faceless” (hey, I wonder if she’s ever listened to Nirvana’s “Nevermind”) the tempo is more upbeat but the mood fails to lift. The Jeckyl/Hyde song’s chorus dips to a distorted darkness that starkly contrasts the verses. “Walkin’ On Eggshells” reveals even more heartbreak and as it sounds like a pacifist shoegaze version of Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street.” It’s not all mellow rock though, “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch” sounds like one of those early amazing b-sides from the White Stripes with their brash guitar noise and ambiguousness.
Every songs here is a highlight, you won’t find a weak song that doesn’t possess something interesting. Barnett simply knocked her proper sophomore album out of the park. If she can continue to write songs this good and interesting her records will be must-buys for years to come.
Key Tracks: “Need A Little Time” “Walkin’ On Eggshells” “Nameless, Faceless” “City Looks Pretty”