The music of Courtney Barnett is the sound I’ve been waiting for my whole life and it’s taken me the last 12 months of my life to try and find the time to sit down to express as to why. In that 12 months Courtney has managed to do two things, combine both her EPs into one full length release titled “The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas” and also become a worldwide musical sensation. I’m somewhat overwhelmed at how important her music has become to the world because in that same twelve months her music has soundtracked my own little universe and given me reason to feel excited about the future of music. Although I sat and read about her rise to fame and watched her recent US and UK performances via YouTube (including her appearance on Jimmy Fallon) it still didn’t register that it was the same artist I was listening to. I almost felt like she was still my little secret but after having another little YouTube journey watching her most recent performances it finally hit me that the Courtney Barnett revolution is finally upon us.
I’m not quite sure what revolution looks or feels like in the digital age but I know that Courtney Barnett is carrying with her the same degree of excitement that Kurt Cobain did back in 1991 and I think this time around the world is a little more prepared for the cultural re-structure that will follow once she finally releases her proper Debut album later this year. I know most reviews focus on the whole Bob Dylan reference point and all of the lo-fi goodness that artists like Kim Deal had / has but to my ears the music Courtney makes is way more special than that. I’d be confident comparing her to Lennon / McCartney and as I said above, Kurt Cobain. Her music carries that same kind of special energy that balances creative exploration and solid pop song dynamics. A song like “Avant-Gardener” is a fine example of this and for the life of me, after studying it closely, I’m still unable to pinpoint what spooky circumstances make the song haunt me. Whenever I’m in the vicinity of this song I have to just stop what I’m doing and immerse myself in it until I’ve consumed it in full. I am yet to grow tired of it and like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” I believe it is one of those one in a million “Voice Of A Generation” songs that change the way people think and feel whilst also connecting deeply to the pain and angst we all feel in this modern context of life. This does not make “Avant-Gardener” exclusive to now, it is a timeless masterpiece of pop music that will live on and become one of the most influential songs of all time.
This is just one of the many fine examples of Courtney’s creative dialogue and all across this release we see an artist map out the early roots of her unique interpretation of rock n roll. The real power of Courtney’s music lays in the way she mixes her pain and vulnerability with her humour and incredible wit. These songs are real stories that humans can relate to that remind you of the clumsiness of growing up in a confused state of being and the places you are taken in your quest for self-discovery. The world is so starved of honesty these days and have been fed a steady diet of Bullshit for the better part of ten years. The art scenes all across the world have become an incredibly insincere plain of existence so when an artist as stark and as raw and as honest as Courtney Barnett appears on the radar people have no choice but to be hypnotised by the music communicated. It is that honesty that has connected the world outside of Australia to Courtney’s music and it will be both a blessing and a curse because the originality of her sound will no doubt become part of the curriculum for humans with less self-awareness but a better understanding on the quick fix of being a mimic. I guess that’s my smart way of saying that people will think the key to success is ripping her off instead of taking the real lesson of doing your own thing and be honest about the art you create.
I know that the world is in a different place and that a 1991 musical revolution looks different to a 2014 musical revolution. Most of the people reading this will probably stupidly take me literally when I say that Courtney has the power to be to modern youth what Kurt Cobain was to people 23 years ago. I’m not being literal with that, I’m simply saying that Courtney has her own unique pop music language that will change the cultural lexicon and influence the aesthetics of how music is communicated. There will be young humans who start bands as result of her influence and this is the positive part of becoming so popular. This isn’t some manufactured version of reality, it is real and Courtney has the power to make some big waves in the old fashioned way, with music and music only. That is why her sound and presence in the world is so refreshing because for the first time in a very long time I believe it.
In 2014 I promised I wouldn’t hand out scores to albums or music that I review, but in the case of Courtney Barnett I have to say that this album is a perfect 10/10 release. I listen to music because it provides pain relief an gives me the perfect vehicle for escapism and for the last 12 months Courtney Barnett has been one of the artists who have soundtracked these journeys.
We as fans can only rejoice that the rest of the world are now also understanding what is so powerful about Courtney Barnett’s music and I suggest that all serious music fans invest now because this music is on the same kind of revolutionary level as “Horses” by Patti Smith. Fuck, I know I keep saying ridiculous things like this but it is the only way for me to express just how special Courtney Barnett is.
10 / 10
By: Dan Newton