Courtney Barnett is one of the most buzzed about artists of this year and with reason. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is her first proper album and she’s already taking the indiesphere by storm with her no-fucks, laid back yet creatively catchy buzzy rock songs.
The first half of this album is fast paced and opens up quickly with “Elevator Operator,” which has Barnett spitting out her tongue-twisting tale spinning lyrics about people she encounters. Her storytelling is lucid and smooth, talking about the colorful characters that she comes across and the imagery sticks out impressively. Meanwhile, the music is complementary to this style but doesn’t ever overpower the lyrics on this first number, but serves as a slight accompaniment to the story. “Pedestrian at Best,” reverses this effect somewhat; while the lyrics are still filled with quick quips and assonance, the garage fuzz is equal in the mix, and Barnett’s vocals weave in and out of the loud rock. This is one of those songs you have to get up off your ass and jam along as the track spirals slowly out of control.
This album consists primarily of songs like these first two: descriptive, unapologetically raw and rambling, but wholly honest and easy to enjoy. I personally like “Aqua Profunda,” which is all at once rock and sugary pop; the guitar licks are all rock, but those drums are smooth and crisp. Later on, Barnett cools her jets for a bit on the last two songs to get a little sentimental, even putting down the electric guitar and trading it for acoustic on the very last track of the album. “Kim’s Caravan” the second to last track is an emotive and powerful track, starting gently and growing slowly to its final crescendo of gritty and twangy guitars and shimmering percussion. These two songs back to back bring you down from the high that was the rest of the album, but a part of me wishes this mood would have been dispersed a little more evenly throughout the earlier tunes.
So yes, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is a pretty fun and groovy first record, but Courtney is the first to say “put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you.” These tunes are casual and laid back, which works for the most part, but leaves us with one level to connect with Barnett. I connect, I dig it, but then I want a little more than the one dimensionality. Perhaps a sophomore effort will see her reaching a little further at least in variety, for now, this is just fine.