Courtney Barnett’s sleepy slacker persona might be a put-on, but what this young Aussie may (or may not) lack in what the older folks call “gumption,” she compensates for with droll, witty lyrics dosed with indie lo-fi and ’60s garage psych.
Comprising Miss Barnett’s prior limited releases, Split Peas features gems like “Lance Jr.,” a deadpan musing on self-gratification (“Doesn’t mean I like you, man/It just helps me get to sleep/And it’s cheaper than Temazepam”) set to a Roky Erickson riff, and “Canned Tomatoes (Whole),” her guitar wash evoking a Jeff Tweedy Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era deconstruction smeared atop Mudhoney’s “Into Yer Shtik.”
The standout, though, is “Avant Gardener,” the folky tale of an allergic reaction. In it, Barnett manages to quote “All Shook Up” and rhyme “hard in here” with “gardening.” Failing to negotiate an asthma puffer, she observes, “I was never good at smoking bongs.” It’s no doubt the best song ever written about anaphylaxis.
Throughout the 12 tracks, Barnett (who has made a left-handed Harmony Rocket something of her trademark), exhibits an absurd talent for hooky, hummable choruses. Apparently she and her two-piece backing band have an LP on tap. Maybe the kids are alright.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s January ’15 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.