We all agree that great rock songs don’t need great lyrics. But sometimes I’m sucked in by a singer/songwriter who is clever and fresh lyrically, even if the music isn’t particularly distinctive or original or rocking.
Courtney Barnett is a bit of a critic’s darling right now, which is how I learned about her. Her lyrics are funny and probing, revealing and cleverly opaque, with enough pop sense to suck one in if one listens enough. Which I did, and now I’m a fan, even though as I listen I can’t help but hear the drone of Lou Reed in her delivery. And hearing that drone, I can’t help but think about the way Reed dressed his songs up in surprising and hard hitting ways, which Barnett doesn’t.
That puts her more in the neighborhood of all those 90s alt-rock bands, who didn’t really alt that much while not really rocking that hard. Bands/artists who lived on the sharpness of their lyrics.