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Album of the Month

Album: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Artist: Courtney Barnett
Release Date: Mar 24, 2015
Label: Mom + Pop Music

As appeared in the NDSU Spectrum

Review by Cydney Berlinger

If 2015 is the year of the singer-songwriter, then Courtney Barnett is its poster child. After releasing a trio of massively successful EPs, Barnett has finally decided to bite the proverbial bullet and release a full-length album, to the immense excitement of nearly every twenty-something aimlessly contemplating the mundanity of life. “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” spans topics from the modern corporate lifestyle to house hunting, with all the lyrical quip of Bob Dylan at his best while wailing on a six-string like Kurt Cobain reincarnate. 

In the first single released, “Pedestrian at Best,” Barnett relays the pressure she feels from the music industry: “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you / Tell me I’m exceptional, I’ll promise to exploit you.” Barnett’s range of witty lyricism on this track sets up a precedent for the rest of the album, all of which are sung with honest conviction in her deadpan drawl that allows the listener to feel like they’re in a small apartment with Barnett rather than a big arena. Barnett keeps delivering as the album progresses, diving into “Depreston” a low key ditty about house hunting, perhaps containing the best lyrics and word play in the entire album. “Then I see the handrail in the shower / a collection of those canisters for coffee, tea and flour / and a photo of a young man in a van in Vietnam.” After listening to the track one would be hard-pressed to believe that it’s just a simple song about house hunting, Barnett seems to have an uncanny ability to evoke very real emotions out of common occurrences, which is perhaps her greatest talent. 

The rest of the album buzzes by in a frenzy of catchy guitar riffs and earworm choruses, the bread and butter of Barnett’s musical empire.  “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party” channels the auditory aesthetic of Barnett’s “History Eraser” the big crowd pleaser off of 2014’s “The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas.”  

“Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” leaves an overall feeling of catharsis, it’s as though through some reverse therapy Courtney Barnett has told you about her world and left the listener feeling better about theirs. So follow the doctor’s orders, and make sure to spin this record on repeat.