Courtney Barnett

The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas

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The first album from Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett isn't a traditional full-length. Sea of Split Peas is in fact two EPs tied together to create a full body of work, and it's a testament to her talented songwriting that the track list flows almost seamlessly from her breakthrough 2013 EP How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose into her 2012 release, I've Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris. Barnett's greatest asset is her down-to-earth lyrical simplicity, which transforms what would otherwise be a mundane day or story into a tale of intrigue and significance. Obvious standout track "Avant Gardener" is typical of Barnett's dry wit as she explains her unsuccessful attempt at gardening, which results in a panic attack and the realization that she struggles with some of life's simplest tasks as she muses, "I'm not that good at breathing in." Her poetic words are set to a soundtrack of psychedelic-leaning guitar wails and chugging slacker-rock chords, which provide a freewheeling accompaniment to her narration. There is of course more to Barnett than her storytelling, and the churning melodies of "History Eraser" and the excitable "David" both indulge in a few organ blasts, piano twinkles, and rambling riffs that flare into the odd guitar solo. The difference between the two EPs is slightly obvious when the studio polish of 2013's Carve a Carrot Into a Rose -- which makes up the first half of the album -- breaks into the lo-fi sounding I've Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris. The slight change of pace is heard in the unfurling tracks "Are You Looking After Yourself" and "Porcelain," which revel in their simplicity, and Barnett herself admits that this release was never intended to be noted as a full-length album, and was simply an exercise in collecting her work onto one disc. It's clear to see that together these EPs are an indicator of her wonderful songwriting talent.

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