Most music critics would anticipate the first “summer album” to come from one of the several dozen pop or rap artists that headline radio hits and big time music festivals, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Courtney Barnett, with her almost spoken word singing and deadpan humor, has brought about a unique summer-feel album.
Tell Me How You Really Feel hits a lot of those sentiments that have made people like, Rihanna and Taylor Swift popular.
The first song of the album, “Hopefulessness,” builds from a surprising alto and soft voice from Barnett towards that hard and harsh voice we all love and recognize. Barnett tells us, “to take our heart and turn it into art,” a line somewhat contrite but pointedly necessary to state in such an album.
After all, what better way to reach a broad audience than by taking heartbreak and turning it into a weapon against your ex?
Barnett then uses the album to take indie rock back to one of its core themes: being fed up and looking for change.
The single that best defines the album, “Nameless, Faceless,” uses an upbeat, power chord heavy melody to mock an ex-lover and demonstrate his cowardice. Her delivery of the line “You said I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and spit out better words than you,” utilizes a clever, but understandable metaphor for what it’s like being in a degrading relationship. They pick on you and try to make it seem like they’re just being funny, but the words cut deep and are remembered as another justifiable reason for you to leave.
What’s great about this is that you can dance and sing along to the taunts and teasing.
So, while many other singles and albums about love and revenge are going to come out this summer, it should be recognized that such a cliche topic has already been redone and polished off by one of the indie scene’s best rising stars. Relationships are unique and complicated things, but Barnett offers a common ground that nearly every listener can relate to.