Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.
A convincing argument that rock & roll doesn't need reinvention in order to revive itself, Courtney Barnett's full-length debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. falls into a long, storied rock tradition but never feels beholden to it. By almost any measure, Barnett is a traditionalist -- a singer/songwriter supported by a guitar-bass-drum trio, cranking out ballads and squalls of noise. Certainly, those flurries of six-string fury do recall a variety of indie rock from the '90s, an era when there was a surplus of guitar-friendly singer/songwriters, and if Sometimes I Sit does occasionally seem reminiscent of Liz Phair's landmark Exile in Guyville, it also seems to go back even further, sometimes suggesting the twitchy nerves of the former pub rockers who cranked up the volume and sharpened their invective in the wake of punk. So, Barnett might be part of a long line of underground rock troubadours but, as always, what matters is her specificity. Barnett's thick Australian accent carries an unstated pride for her homeland, but her sly twists of phrase, alternately wry and melancholic, give a greater sense of place, time, and character. Offhand observations mingle with understated insights, a nice trick of songwriting that the music cannily mirrors. When called upon, Barnett and her band can be furious -- "An Illustration of Loneliness" and "Kim's Caravan" both work themselves up to a knotty, gnarled head -- but they can also slip into a soothing sadness ("Depreston," "Boxing Day Blues"). Usually, they're punchy but not precise, hammering the hard hooks of "Aqua Profunda!" and "Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go to the Party" into place, giving "Elevator Operator" and "Pedestrian at Best" an urgency that mimics Barnett's cloistered, clever words. There are no frills here but there is a distinct, compelling voice evident in Barnett's songs and music alike. That's what makes Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. so invigorating: it may have roots -- perhaps even some inadvertent ones -- but it's music that lives thoroughly in the moment. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Rolling Stone - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "Her loose, conversational lyrics are full of images you can't shake and characters you need to know more about. You don't just quote a Courtney Barnett song, you recap it."
Spin - "[I]t's just thrilling to hear what she's going to say next: Her songs are page-turners like the best li]erary fiction, even when they're not obviously narrative-based, and they're endlessly quotable like few songs outside of hip-hop have been this decade."
Entertainment Weekly - "[T]his isn't just a nostalgia trip. Barnett has established herself as one of pop's most gifted new storytellers.
NME (Magazine) - "[S]he's still trying to figure it all out, spooling out stream-of-consciousness thoughts about all of life's mundanities."
Paste (magazine) - "She displays a high-verbal dexterity that verges on dazzling..."
Clash (Magazine) - "Half of the time Barnett, sounds like she isn't even trying, shrugging out moments of brilliance with ease and nonchalance. Whether she sits and thinks or sits and does nothing, it would appear the results are still golden."