Courtney Barnett's signature brand of trenchant, low-key indie rock made her a breakout star of Australian music during the latter half of the 2010s. With its wry observations and punchy, down-to-earth feel, her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, was widely hailed as a classic. Subsequent releases -- namely the 2017 Kurt Vile collaboration, Lotta Sea Lice, and her 2018 solo follow-up, Tell Me How You Really Feel -- were mixed bags that revealed the growing pains of trying to expand on a deceptively simple formula. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the global mood over the previous two years, Barnett's third LP is a more ruminative affair with a sense of inner gravity that skews toward the meditative. Co-produced with Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), Things Take Time, Take Time ambles along in an affable if somewhat listless, midtempo state peppered by the steady rise and fall of Barnett's conversational vocal delivery. Some of it is quite nice, especially the dreamy "Here's the Thing" and the pop drone love song "Before You Gotta Go," but the lackadaisical pace and general dearth of highlights makes for a rather underwhelming listen. The more sprightly "Take It Day By Day" taps into some of her old verve, and the sweet jangle of "Make a List of Things to Look Forward To" coasts on a wave of sunny-day propulsion, though neither matches the quality of freshness that marked her earlier EPs or debut. With a more engaging set of songs, Barnett might easily transpose herself into the mode of introspective singer/songwriter, but alas, Things Take Time, Take Time just feels a little too dull.
Things Take Time, Take Time
(CD - Marathon Artists / Milk! Records / Mom + Pop Music #565)
Review by Timothy Monger