Best Albums of 2014: Courtney Barnett, “The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas”
Bringing her two previous EPs together gave Barnett an unbeatable full-length.
At the beginning of 2014, whenever you turned on the radio (to a college or indie station), you might have heard the steadily timed lyrics of Courtney Barnett singing about an asthma attack over an addictive bass line and a sea of whimsical surf guitars. “Avant Gardener,” the lead single from the Australian singer-songwriter’s debut full-length is a perfect introduction to Barnett, especially the lyric, “The paramedic thinks I’m clever because I play guitar.” Yes, Barnett plays guitar, but she’s also clever for her unbelievably witty and natural lyrics, her poppy yet lo-fi sound, and her pursuit to playfully write about what she knows.
Within the twelve tracks that make up The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas (which got an American reissue on Mom + Pop this year), Barnett’s warm voice takes listeners through health scares (“Avant Gardener”), friendship pacts (“Anonymous Club”), painful breakups (“Don’t Apply Compression Gently”), and drunken nights out complete with “arty school” hookups (“History Eraser”) with such ease, that it sounds like you’re having a chat with a very close friend…or Jennifer Lawrence. Her immense charm and infectious garage-rock sound makes even the most awkward phrases like, “You said, ‘We only live once,’ so we touched a little tongue,” sound cool.—Bailey Pennick