The first two songs of Courtney Barnett’s new album are very similar. Fast, streamlined, heavy on bass and drums, lots of lyrics more spoken than sung. Approaching Song Three, I wonder if we’ll get more of the same or if we’re in for a stylistic shift.
I’ve heard great albums that hit basically the same note throughout, and great albums that land all over the place. I don’t even have a preference for one over the other. But it’s always interesting to find out which kind of album a new one is.
The title of this song — ‘An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)’ — is a lot less simple than that of the songs it follows. Will the music follow suit?
Well, yes and no. It’s certainly the same sensibility and performer, and more or less the same style, but this song has a different vibe to it. More laid back and melodic than the others. It’s the most accessible song on the record so far.
I love the lyrics, which draw poetry out of an insomniac’s sorrowful observations. Comparing cracks in the ceiling to the lines of a palm, contemplating the kitschy dinner plates and missing a (former?) lover.
I lay awake at four, staring at the wall
Counting all the cracks backwards in my best French
Reminds me of a book I skim-read in a surgery
All about palmistry, I wonder what’s in store for me
I pretend the plaster is the skin on my palms
And the cracks are representative of what is going on
I lose a breath… my love-line seems intertwined with death
I’m thinking of you too
I lay awake at three, staring at the ceiling
It’s a kind of off-white, maybe it’s a cream
There’s oily residue seeping from the kitchen
It’s art-deco necromantic chic, all the dinner plates are kitsch with
Irish Wolf Hounds, French baguettes wrapped loose around their necks
I think I’m hungry, I’m thinking of you too
Wondering what you’re doing, what you’re listening to
Which quarter of the moon you’re viewing from your bedroom
Watching all the movies, drinking all the smoothies
Swimming at the pool, I’m thinking of you too