Artist: Courtney Barnett
Album Title: The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas
Released: October 15th, 2013
Label: Milk! Records
Procrastinators, meet your new poet laureate. Courtney Barnett is a singer-songwriter-guitarist from Melbourne, Australia with a gift for tapping into the consciousness of the archetypal slacker. The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, her debut full-length, sets her deadpanned musings against an inviting backdrop of mellow, Pavement-meets-Neil-Young-and-Crazy-Horse rock. Though she only released her first EP a little over a year ago, Barnett is already a lyricist par excellence, as the standout “Avant Gardener” shows. The meandering inner monologue of a hapless underachiever who suffers a panic attack while attempting to garden, “Avant Gardner” is both poignant and hilarious, chock full of brilliant lines. For instance: “My throat feels like a funnel/Filled with Weet-Bix and kerosene.” Barnett’s wit similarly shines through in “History Eraser,” a surreal fast-paced dream tale wherein she observes: “The people went to arty school/They made their paint by mixing acid wash with lemonade.”
True to its title, The Double EP consists entirely of Barnett’s first two EP’s, presented in reverse chronological order. The bad news of this arrangement is that the older material that makes up the back half of the record tends to drag, with too many aimless jams. The good news, on the other hand, is that the first of half of the album is solid gold, brimming with catchy, fresh hooks. “David” swings with the self-assurance of an instant classic, and “Anonymous Club” offers a refreshing change of pace, a dreamy, wide-eyed haze over which Barnett’s breathy vocals soar.
Heard in reverse, with the older songs leading into the new, the album shows an impressive arc of development: between EP’s, Barnett grows noticeably more self-assured, her lyrics more poetic and hilariously insightful. The Double EP is an excellent debut from an exciting new artist, leaving the listener thirsty for more of Courtney Barnett’s dry, clever wit.
Reviewed by John McAlmon