Courtney Barnett sings the suburban blues in her first proper full-length. Her Australian-accented, Melba-toast-dry delivery quietly rages at the tedium of a California bungalow on a cul-de-sac or reading depressing news. In opening track “Elevator Operator” she climbs buildings because she likes “to imagine I’m playing Sim City.” And in the crunchy lead single “Pedestrian at Best” she drolly delivers “I think you’re a joke but I don’t find you very funny.”
The feeling of listlessness could’ve drowned the album if Barnett didn’t have such a damn good eye for the sweetness in the sadness. Like in “Depreston,” an ode to the exile to the ‘burbs: “we don’t have to be around all these coffee shops … I’m saving $23 a week;” or how she passes out at the pool trying to impress somebody: “my life of athleticism sunk like a stone, like a first home-owners loan.” It’s a bummer—but it’s razor-sharp in its lethargy.