It seems as though Courtney Barnett has been going non-stop as of late; with 2017’s “Lotta Sea Lice” with Kurt Vile, touring to support that album, more touring as a member of partner Jen Cloher’s band, and now with her latest single “Nameless/Faceless” and subsequent album and tour, “Tell Me How You Really Feel.”
It’s that sort of genuine grit-grinding gravitas that has placed Barnett at the top of indie-rock after just one full-length album. With 2015’s “Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit,” Barnett established herself as a legitimate lyricist, displaying a humble intelligence beneath her casual, conservational writing style. Allowing her to address critical social and political issues without sounding pretentious. And that’s what Barnett does on “Nameless/Faceless,” along with an addition of the snarky, satirical wit of “An Illustration of Loneliness.”
“Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you/Tell me I’m exceptional I promise to exploit you/Give me all your money and I’ll make some origami, honey,” sang Barnett on her debut.
Except, in “Nameless/Faceless” she is quoting Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, “Men worry women will laugh at them; women worry men will kill them.”
The song addresses the ‘troll’ culture that has developed online, gender politics, and a toxic culture for women. Barnett begins the first verse with compassion, however, undercuts the sentiment with the chorus:
“I wanna walk through the park in the dark/Men are scared that women will laugh at them/I wanna walk through the park in the dark/Women are scared that men will kill them/I hold my keys/Between my fingers”
She also quotes one of the top insults she has received online, “I could eat alphabet soup and spit out better words than you.”
Though, the following line is perhaps the more biting for its cool simplicity, “But you didn’t.”
Which, I think is a key to the point Barnett is making, specifically in that second verse, “Y’know you got lots to give/N so many options/I’m real sorry/Bout whatever happened to you.”
Essentially, she is saying there is an actual constructive potential for that energy wasted on some banal echo chamber dagger. What’s the point?
Courtney Barnett is beginning her tour in support of the album this April that will carry on through July. She will appear with guests: Jay Som, Julien Baker, Big Thief, Molly Burch, Vagabond, LALA LALA, Loose Tooth, and Palehound.
“Tell Me What You Really Think” is out May 18, and was produced by Barnett, Burke Reid, and Dan Luscombe. It was recorded in Australia at Soundpark Studios with current band members Bones Sloan (Bass) and Dave Mudie (Drums), former lead guitar player Luscombe, and singers Kim and Kelly Deal.