After gaining some indie momentum and critical success from 2013’s The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, Courtney Barnett is finally ready to release her debut album via Mom + Pop. Along with the announcement of Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit due out March 24th, Barnett released her first single, “Pedestrian at Best.” The song is a roaring, headfirst dive into the ever-so-charming wordsmith that is Courtney Barnett. The singer-songwriter out of Melbourne, Australia is known for her quirky lyrics, her soft-spoken vocals, and her carefree guitar pop-rock sensibilities.
“Pedestrian at Best” may be Barnett’s loudest work to date. It’s muddled with brash and aggressive guitar playing, topped off with Barnett’s static-heavy vocals. It’s a 90s Nirvana and grunge fan’s dream. She opens the song with the lyrics: “I love you, I hate you, I’m on the fence, it all depends.” We immediately plunge straight into Barnett’s brain and current mental state. She’s losing her touch with reality and doesn’t know what to think. She’s in a state of mixed feelings, mixed advice, and a general second-guessing of the paths we take in life. We find out later, through her incredibly chaotic and earnest approach to storytelling, that Barnett is having a small crisis with becoming known better, even in an indie sense.
Barnett’s appearance and stage presence makes us think of her as the girl-next-door type or someone who you’d love to be friends and go see a concert with. She’s extremely humble and warm-hearted, and she’s worried about disappointing her newly gained fans or from disappearing back into obscurity. She’s in a gray, middle ground with so many different directions to choose from, and with so much pressure that she’s having a hard time compartmentalizing everything and remaining present. The chorus makes it clearer: “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you. / Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you.” It’s Barnett struggling to keep at her usual songwriting style and carefree ideology with now a crowd of people counting on her to continue it.
What’s so wonderful about “Pedestrian at Best,” is Barnett’s boldness and ability to speak the truth about her flaws, her fears, and her challenges, while also being ridiculously catchy and clever. She even rhymes “turpentine” with “cyanide” and “diatribe,” and also “erroneous,” “harmonious,” and “sanctimonious” all in the same verse. “Pedestrian at Best” is a solid, brave, and cunning release from indie’s newest charmer, and it makes us fans extremely excited for March 24th.