Courtney Barnett, "Tell Me How You Really Feel" (Milk! Records/Mom+Pop/Marathon)
"I need a little time out," Courtney Barnett pleads on the plaintive signature tune of her third full album. Thank the down-under gods that she's wasn't so sick of herself — and us — to forge on after the first two.
Captivating as ever, the Melbourne phenom sings her heart out on the 10-track "Tell Me How You Really Feel."
From the haunting psychedelic rock of "Hopelessness" to the edgy, throbbing "I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch," Barnett's grunge garage-band roots show, in a really good way.
Throughout, she sounds just like she did on her first EP, way back in 2012 — like a bored street kid who, still wiping sleep from her eyes and nocturnal hoarseness from her waifish voice, absentmindedly picked up a left-handed Telecaster and let it rip.
Now 30, Barnett infuses Aussie-tinged lyrics with elliptical tales of introspection, troubled partnerships, and even Internet trolling and domestic violence, in "Nameless, faceless" — a biting critique that references "The Handmaid's Tale."
The mood softens on the final track, "Sunday roast," a sweet anthem to acceptance. "You know your presence is present enough," Barnett sings. So, surely, is hers.