Courtney Barnett’s 2015 debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit was a big hit with both critics and fans. Tracks like “Elevator Operator” and “Pedestrian at Best” treated audiences to Barnett’s witty banter mixed with early 90s guitar sound. Many tours later, plus a well-received effort with Kurt Vile, Barnett releases sophomore effort Tell Me How You Really Feel. After listening to the attention weary album, the title comes off more of an inward question than an outward one for the Melbourne artist.
First single, “Nameless, Faceless” features a jangly guitar melody until the chorus blows that away with distorted vocals singing the Margaret Atwood quote “men are scared women will laugh at them… women are scared men will kill them”. “City Looks Pretty” hits the ground running but slows down considerably half way in. Perhaps a metaphor for Barnett speeding through life then needing to rest. “I’m Not Your Mother…” is more harsh sounding and could easily have come straight from Nirvana’s In Utero.
Tell Me How You Really Feel is not as immediately likable as her debut. There is a tiredness to some of the tracks. “Charity” asks “You must be having so much fun/everything is amazing” before asking, “so subservient, I make myself sick/Are you listening?” The feature song here is album closer “Sunday Roast”. A sadness runs through until the uplifting chorus statement, “I know you’re doing your best, I think you’re doing just fine”. Barnett does not always make it an easy listen but one that reveals several gems through repeated listens.