Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
There's no sign of a sophomore slump on Tell Me How You Really Feel, an album that doesn't better Courtney Barnett's stellar debut, but certainly does no harm to her burgeoning oeuvre
After rocketing to success with 2015's Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Courtney Barnett experienced an understandably difficult time adjusting to the newfound pressures that come with fame and expectation. She was vocal about her troubles with writer's block in the build up to the release of last year's collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice with Kurt Vile. Fortunately, there's no sign of a sophomore slump on Tell Me How You Really Feel, an album that doesn't better her stellar debut, but certainly does no harm to her burgeoning oeuvre.
The album is typical Barnett fare (the song titles alone could tell you that), but whereas her debut had a tendency to get lost in the details (in a marvellously uplifting sense), Tell Me... manages to exude a sense of positivity and hopefulness (despite the name of the opening track: Hopefulessness) from within the chaos. Charity and Sunday Roast take limp platitudes about everyone being in the same boat and imbue them a dose of concrete reality thanks to Barnett's sparklingly precise songwriting. Even Nameless, Faceless – the album's first single that takes its chorus from a paraphrased Margaret Atwood quote about toxic (and dangerous) masculinity – ultimately revels in pity, sympathy and a common humanity; 'I wish that someone could hug you... I'm real sorry / 'bout whatever happened to you,' rather than rage and despair.
Elsewhere, there's a bit more variance, musically and lyrically, with the fast/slow dynamics of City Looks Pretty, the punky sass of I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch and the languid, Vile-esque musings of Walkin' on Eggshells. But, despite the gentle forays into new styles, the universally relatable stories are still well and present, with enough morbid humour, intricately drawn character studies and down-to-earth wisdom to keep you coming back again and again.
Listen to: Walkin' on Eggshells, Charity, Nameless, Faceless