Stop what you're doing right now and listen to this. "Depreston," by Australian rock artist Courtney Barnett, is one of the best singles of the year so far, as smart and beautiful as it is melancholic and jarring.
Though an upbeat song, "Depreston" — the second single released from Barnett's upcoming debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit — features a lyrical rhythm that harks back to Jenny Lewis' voice on early Rilo Kiley tracks.
The song isn't actually that new. Barnett and her band have frequently played it in concert. When I saw Barnett in 2014, she played "Depreston" near the end of her set and immediately captivated the audience. The song stuck in my brain for months after the show, even though I remembered none of the words.
Barnett might be the best writer of sad rock songs out there right now. Her earlier work, collected on two short EPs released in 2012 and 2013, is filled with lyrically complicated, subversive slow rock hits. Her lyrics are what make her music so interesting. They manage to combine the confessional aspects of the singer-songwriter genre with the lilting guitar patterns of indie rock.
"It's kind of that constant looking and constant listening," she told Stephen Hyden at Grantland. "I try to write a lot of it down because I forget otherwise, all of the things we can overlook or brush past. I think sometimes those things deserve a lot more attention than they're given."
Barnett's previous single, "Pedestrian at Best," is a louder and more rocking song. If there's one word to describe it — almost impossible with any song in Barnett's catalog — it's "noisy."
But on "Depreston," Barnett emerges as a more mature artist than ever before. Unlike "Pedestrian at Best" or her earlier works, "Depreston" is a somber song. It feels a lot of things — and that's something that sets Barnett apart from many other contemporary rock writers.
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit will be released on March 23, 2015.