Following a mysterious online album teaser and indie record stores worldwide unexpectedly receiving vinyl copies of a new song, Courtney Barnett has announced her second studio album Tell Me How You Really Feel, including its scathing lead single “Nameless, Faceless”, to be released on May 18th 2018 through Marathon Artists and Barnett’s own label Milk! Records.
Observers would be aware that over the course of just a few years Barnett has become internationally renowned for her distinctive and acclaimed musical lexicon. Her effortless ability to flip an intensely private sentiment on its head and make it sound universal and relatable won her fans around the world. Her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit sold more than 500,000 copies, saw her top year-end lists, crash the UK Top 20 and sell out shows to adoring audiences on five continents. She played the most iconic and revered festival stages, nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards in 2016 and also International Female Solo Artist at the Brits, not to mention scooping the top prizes in her homeland, including the Australian Music Prize, APRA’s Songwriter Of the Year and four ARIAs. Lotta Sea Lice, her collaborative album with kindred spirit Kurt Vile that came out last year was similarly lauded, ending up at No.11 in the UK Official Album Chart on release and garnering an NME Awards nomination for Best Collaboration.
So… how do you follow that up?
In Tell Me How You Really Feel, Barnett has revealed an exhilarating and unexpected shift. From its title to the unsettling cover image – a blood-red tinted self-portrait in uncomfortably tight close-up – Barnett sets a different tone. There’s a new-found directness with this record, a muscularity to the instrumentation, a tenderness in her voice and a boldness to the lyrics. It speaks to Barnett entering a remarkable new phase of her musical evolution. She’s saying more, with less. Whereas once she examined the world through the prism of self-analysis, Tell Me How You Really Feel shifts that focus to those she interacts with – the good ones, the bad ones, the loved ones. Those she knows intimately and those who are strangers.
First single “Nameless, Faceless” is an infectious punk rock anthem. Simmering with indignation and sarcasm, it examines the phenomenon of incessant and anonymous internet trolls. Through song, Barnett is using the medium she knows best to return fire.
Every lyric is memorable as Barnett quotes one of the more creative burns she’s received in a comments section, “I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and spit out better words than you”. It would be pure comedy if it didn’t invariably and insidiously cross over into anxiety about one’s safety in the real world… illustrated perfectly by the chorus which borrows from a famous Margaret Atwood quote “I want to walk through the park in the dark / Men are scared that women will laugh at them / I want to walk through the park in the dark / Women are scared that men will kill them / I hold my keys between my fingers”.
Courtney Barnett has also announced a series of UK headline shows and summer festival shows as part of a wider European and US tour.
2. City Looks Pretty
4. Need a Little Time
5. Nameless, Faceless
6. I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch
7. Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Self-Confidence
8. Help Your Self
9. Walkin’ on Eggshells
10. Sunday Roast
Fri 25th May – Belfast Titanic Slipways (BBC 6Music Biggest Weekend)
Tues 29th May – Leeds O2 Academy
Sat 2nd June – Glasgow Barrowlands
Sun 3rd June – London All Points East Festival
Mon 4th June – Manchester Academy
Tues 5th June – Bristol O2 Academy
Wed 6th June – London The Roundhouse
Tell Me How You Really Feel will be released on May 18th 2018 through Marathon Artists and Milk! Records, and available from Amazon.co.uk and other leading retailers.