Review: Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney Barnett

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney BarnettOn her early stuff – her first two EPs, and later, her debut album – Courtney Barnett made a reputation for her way with words and her slightly can’t-be-arsed view of the world. And then that became really popular: a relatively big name on both sides of the Atlantic (as well as in her home country, Australia) and a bunch of collaborations with some indie luminaries. And now, a second full-length, with the weight of all that expectation it carries. Tell Me How You Really Feel proceeds to be uncomfortable, at least initially: it’s like the person who had the right combination of words wasn’t sure of how to say things, if she should ever. But that’s the message across the album, anyway. The stakes are now bigger, and clearly there’s more to ponder than descriptions of suburban Melbourne. Courtney succeeds by channeling that uncertainty, that discomfort, into an album that initially seems more introspective than expected, but later sees her rise above the nadir and continue to crunch. It may feel slightly less potent than her debut – or perhaps slightly less whimsical, considering the hand-drawn cover art of her earlier releases – but then we ought to remember there are bigger things at stake now. She may not have the definitive last word, but the struggle towards even making sense of it is the beauty of this record. [NB]4/5

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