Courtney Barnett’s first two albums told stories of the tiny splinters that pull on the very fabric of the world: the way panic attacks and unmoored comments and unsightly, unseemly vistas can make knots and tears that are impossible not to fixate on. Her third album steps back, takes a breath, takes a beat, asks you not to fixate on the little things. It’s quieter and smaller than you might expect from Courtney. If you don’t like it — although you probably will — it’s no big deal; just give it another go tomorrow. Things Take Time, Take Time.
In 2019, Courtney found herself at some point close to burnt out. “By the end of the Tell Me How You Really Feel cycle, I was a bit down on myself, and exhausted — not exhausted of touring or music, but just of life,” she recalls. The songs she was writing were tainted with an ambient sense of anger — not aimed towards any one person or thing, but present nonetheless. Her brain was due for a rewiring, something to help shake off the blues.
In March 2020, Courtney flew back home to Melbourne, to live alone for the first time in her life and, back home, she was afforded time to do the things that the life of a touring musician often can’t allow: listen to music she never thought she’d listen to; reflect on things she didn’t realise needed reflection; sit with herself and her thoughts, with no interruptions or conflicting schedules. She continued to write, still tapping into the vein of positivity she’d reclaimed earlier in the year, and, eventually, found herself with the material that would end up becoming her most joyous record to date. Things Take Time, Take Time.
Things Take Time, Take Time is sighing and honest, almost surprisingly so. This album represents a swing of the pendulum away from Tell Me How You Really Feel’s muscular rock back towards the loose stitching of Courtney’s earliest records.