Courtney Barnett
Things Take Time, Take Time


3.5
great

Review

by lz41 USER (49 Reviews)
November 14th, 2021 | 27 replies


Release Date: 11/12/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny."

I am a sucker for contextual influence on an album. Personal, professional, political… I always look for what factors may be told and revealed in the writing process.

And yes, I know that most albums are not a soap opera soundtrack to the artist’s life at the time. But boy, do I luuurve it when an album is so very obviously a product of what its maker was going through in recording. And that’s what Courtney Barnett’s third album Things Take Time, Take Time is.

Barnett’s home city of Melbourne spent more than 200 days under carrying degrees of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions from March of last year to the (hopefully) final lifting earlier this month. Lockdown is the backdrop for Things Take Time. The way life changed, the way people dealt with this scary, boring new world, the way relationships distanced or deepened. Who knows – in the years to come, this might be a primary musical document of a weird time in the world.

Album opener and first single ‘Rae Street’ is a monologue of an isolated person watching the world turn through a suburban keyhole. The socially-distanced walkers, the young family next door struggling with remote learning, the first-responder tribute candles… all details that may have been imperceptible prior to the pandemic and are now associated with lockdown to Melburnians.

“All our candles, hopes and prayers, though well-meanin', they don't mean a thing,” sighs Barnett as she watches. That growing despondency of boredom and frustration feeds into the short, sharp cynicism of ‘Take It Day By Day’, a grumpy satire on the well-intended but ultimately hollow R U OK? style truisms to which we so often resort to get ourselves and our loved ones through times we cannot control.

It’s the lone self-sorry tantrum on the album, however. Patience and gratitude are more prevailing sentiments; expressed through the narrator proud of a couple buying their first house together in ‘Sunfair Sundown’ and more explicitly in the self-explanatory ‘Write a List of Things to Look Forward To’.

‘Here’s the Thing’ and If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight’ are out-of-reach confessions of love, the former of which may or may not have nicked a line from the Moody Blues, but also has the gorgeous moment of gratitude when “the windowsill is momentarily filled with sun/And it's these small thrills that get me through the day until the next one”.

Circumstance affects the sound of these 10 songs too; in an interview with Apple Music, Barnett described the writing process taking place almost entirely in her apartment. As a result of Barnett’s concern for her neighbours, the squalling rockers are gone in favour of mellow, slowed down acoustics and up-and-down riffs. Barnett’s mopey, melancholy lead guitar suits the sad sigh of her lyrics on ‘Before You Gotta Go’, in which we are hearing a relationship end in what feels like real time: Barnett conflicts love with anger, acceptance of the splintering with a resolution to work things out. Small wonder the song ends with the narrator singing, “You got to get away/Yeah, I know and I don’t blame you.”

The album cover’s predominant cover is blue – apt, perhaps. However, it is playfully and happily arranged. It could be the art project of the cooped-up kids of ‘Rae Street’: an album expressively making the most of an uncertain time.



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user ratings (47)
3.1
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2021


26865 Comments


Great review!

Digging: Tomb of Annihilation - End of Time

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2021


3887 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this review a lot. And the album.

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
November 15th 2021


3284 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very nice review. Gave this a first listen earlier today and it didn't leave much of an impression, will be coming back to it.

HBFS
November 15th 2021


1519 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice review! been following her since 2012 and this is probably my least favourite material of hers; I thought i'd be able to connect to the melbourne lockdown blues but it didn't really hit. still pleasant enough but I don't think it'll have much lasting power.

Digging: Pinegrove - 11:11

DavidYowi
November 15th 2021


2118 Comments


Solid review. I'm also a sucker for the behind-the-scenes context for an album, helps me makes sense of ideas I initially were unsure/neglectful of. Pos

Digging: Skee Mask - Pool

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2021


1765 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pos

I like this and all, and I love that long lead break in that one song, but I yearn for her sense of humour to shine like it used to

fogza
November 16th 2021


4148 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review!

Digging: Tusks - Dissolve

Chewie
November 16th 2021


4544 Comments


Agreed. Review is solid.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2021


16250 Comments


Good review, glad to see it land some feature time.

Digging: Krallice - Crystalline Exhaustion

theBoneyKing
November 17th 2021


21202 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

People might be underrating this a bit, some good tunes and solid guitar playing/lyrics. She’s definitely fallen far since the debut LP though.

Digging: 40 Watt Sun - Perfect Light

Atari
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2021


27103 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

seems she released all the best songs as singles :/



Rae Street is still such a jam tho

Digging: Mos Def - Black on Both Sides

hamid95
November 17th 2021


1011 Comments


seeing her live > all of her albums

AmericanFlagAsh
November 18th 2021


10758 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this, but I miss the rawness and quirkiness of the debut

Digging: Lil Ugly Mane - Volcanic Bird Enemy and the Voiced Concern

brandontaylor
November 19th 2021


1136 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is definitely her weakest output so far, it was just so dreary... where were the hooks? she had great hooks on both the debut and follow-up

theBoneyKing
November 19th 2021


21202 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, this has big “pleasant and enjoyable while it’s on but not very memorable once it’s over” energy.

DoctorSpaghetti0
November 21st 2021


42 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

It's so wanton, a true yawner. Seems like she's spent

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
November 27th 2021


22093 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not finding this to be much worse than her last couple, these highlights are true bops

theBoneyKing
November 27th 2021


21202 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed, this has been growing on me. I like it a bit more than Tell Me How You Really Feel, which just felt like a much tamer and lamer version of Sometimes. This one is even tamer but settles into a more consistent chill vibe that I dig a bit more, and as I mentioned the lyrics here are still quite strong.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
November 27th 2021


22093 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes yes agreed, I like the chill Dylanesque vibes here. My faves are “Here’s the Thing” “Turning Green” and “Write a List” by quite a bit

TheWatchman71
November 27th 2021


212 Comments


“seeing her live > all of her albums”

Bristol 2015 - having been fairly indifferent to her album at the time, the live show was incredible and definitely changed my view instantly


Digging: Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters



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