Courtney Barnett
Tell Me How You Really Feel


3.5
great

Review

by neekafat CONTRIBUTOR (57 Reviews)
August 3rd, 2018 | 38 replies


Release Date: 05/18/2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You deserve better, it's true

Standing on the same stage as Courtney Barnett was a trip. Even with me not being a fan at the time, there was a surreality to the close proximity. She exuded a rock star persona perhaps more than any of the artists I helped film during the Pitchfork Music Fest. As I crouched in the corner wrapping camera wires, doing my best not to be distraction to the sea of fans before us, I watched her with fascination. Her movements and style were undoubtedly confident, but there was a lack of that same conviction in her songs. She of course wowed me with moments like the violent guitar solo of “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch,” and the pleasant but affecting chorus of “Need a Little Time,” but overall the wide majority of songs blended together into a harmless pop-rock splurge of monotonous riffs and pleasant but redundant choruses. It might have just been the pounding bass or the squashed sound quality muffled by my earplugs, but I was a little let down. I just didn't get what all the hubbub was about.

But when I jammed her latest record as soon as I got off that night, I was immediately taken aback by the opener. Also the lengthiest track on the album, it had plenty of time to build from its gloomy guitar picking into a pounding atmospheric swirl. I was then thrown into the charming “City Looks Pretty,” which features such a catchy and easygoing vibe that the listener is quickly lulled into a relaxed head-bob even before it turns to a country-esque bridge to seal the deal. Both of these studio tracks exuded far more nuance and artiness than anything her performance hinted at. By the time I had made my way through the aggressive crunch of “Nameless, Faceless” and the aforementioned lovely highlight “Need a Little Time,” I had gotten the point: Tell Me How You Really Feel is a great collection of simple, crunchy rock tunes. It’s an album by mode of delivery, but in terms of cohesion it’s ten separate tracks. This isn’t a bad thing, as the differing themes and flavors add a lot of variety a record that could otherwise easily become monotonous.

The second half especially comes dangerously close to that however, as the album is quite a bit top heavy. Tunes like “Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence” and the plodding “Help Your Self” fall prey to that same thing I noticed onstage; they’re enjoyable in the moment, but don’t warrant much thought afterwards. And perhaps that’s the problem. The majority of the songs here are good, great even, but the moment that they’re over or you put on more critical glasses, they just doesn’t stick. Only a couple highlights truly break through to become semi-essential tunes for your memory banks to callback every so often.

And believe me, it’s not that I don’t like Courtney Barnett. Especially after hearing her ambition and talent come through on an album rather than diluted on the stage, there’s got an incredible charm to her voice and lyrics, and there’s a variety of great guitar work from her on here. It’s more that I feel that there’s something more brimming in the background here. Something that she’ll have to really let spill over to capture her full potential. Once that happens, I know that she’ll have a truly memorable and challenging record to gift us with, one that better channels her confidence and conviction she so easily displayed onstage. But this album isn’t quite it. Not just yet.



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user ratings (162)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2018


16945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wasn't planning on reviewing this until I suddenly realized it didn't have one which I thought was weird

Anyway, hope you don't think this is weird c:

Papa Universe
August 3rd 2018


22433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

guess people are already getting lukewarm on her... not like it wasn't coming all along

tell me how you really POS

bgillesp
August 4th 2018


7053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pos to you neekabud

theBoneyKing
August 4th 2018


17447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

One of the year’s most disappointing records.

Digging: Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
August 4th 2018


16945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wasn't really aware of her beforehand so I can't call it disappointing, definitely had more potential than it lived up to though!

Also thanks guys < 3

Deathconscious
August 4th 2018


22715 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pretty much what i expected from her, a solid 3.5.

Digging: Slutvomit - Copulation of Cloven Hooves

hamid95
August 4th 2018


664 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Much more enjoyable than I expected, but still not the risk-taking breakthrough I dearly wish she'd go for.



She's ace live, so I'd love if she did a super raw, distorted, messy EP or full album at some point - I find a lot of her studio tracks to be a bit too clean, particularly the vocals. The opener here is a great counterpoint, though.

theBoneyKing
August 4th 2018


17447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Neek if you haven’t heard her debut yet I highly reccomend it, it wipes the floor with this.

AngryJohnny
August 4th 2018


959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah this was fine, wasn't crazy about the debut either

danielcardoso
August 4th 2018


11770 Comments


The debut is amazing and this pales immensely in comparison. Decent record but nowhere near her best stuff.

Not crazy about her joint record with Kurt Vile either - bar a couple of really great tracks - so she's starting to go on a bit of a disappointing streak for me.

hamid95
August 4th 2018


664 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, that collab with Kurt Vile was pleasant, but not much else.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
August 4th 2018


16945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've already started going back through her discog with her EPs, those are really good but still about the same quality for me

theBoneyKing
August 4th 2018


17447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The EPs are patchy with a few great tracks, the debut LP is amazing, the Kurt Vile collaboration is really good but a step down, and this is a step down from that. So basically she’s gone full circle now.

danielcardoso
August 4th 2018


11770 Comments


I think I never actually listened to the EPs in full.

Avant Gardener is one of her best tracks tho.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
August 4th 2018


16945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gonna be honest, that didn't wow me on first listen, but there were some awesome moments yeah including the opener

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
August 4th 2018


16945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This was right on the edge of a 4 for me tbh, one of those that over the course of reviewing I kinda realized it wasn't

CompostCompote
August 4th 2018


1022 Comments


Courtney Love >

wham49
August 4th 2018


4823 Comments


Have to check I saw a show of hers and was pretty impressed

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2018


16945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Again, maybe it was just the distortion of hearing everything from the stage that made everything sound weird tbf

brandontaylor
August 5th 2018


860 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i think this is about the same quality as her debut but its been overlooked a bit because it hasnt had that first-album buzz. pretty much all tracks on here are really enjoyable



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