Record reviews

Courtney Barnett

Album: “Tell Me How You Really Feel”

Grade: A

“I need a little time out,” Courtney Barnett pleads on the plaintive signature tune of her third full album. Thank the down-under gods that she’s wasn’t so sick of herself to forge on after the first two.

Captivating as ever, the Melbourne phenom sings her heart out on the 10-track “Tell Me How You Really Feel.” From the haunting psychedelic rock of “Hopelessness” to the edgy, throbbing “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch,” Barnett’s grunge garage-band roots show, in a really good way.

Throughout, she sounds just like she did on her first EP, way back in 2012 — like a bored street kid who, still wiping sleep from her eyes and nocturnal hoarseness from her waifish voice, absentmindedly picked up a left-handed Telecaster and let it rip.

Now 30, Barnett infuses Aussie-tinged lyrics with elliptical tales of introspection, troubled partnerships, and even Internet trolling and domestic violence, in “Nameless, faceless” — a biting critique that references “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The mood softens on the final track, “Sunday roast,” a sweet anthem to acceptance.

—Lindsey Tanner, Associated Press

Beach House

Album: “7”

Grade: B+

When is a number just a number and when is it much more?

Seven is a mystical digit sometimes representing perfection and it appears in grand notions like Seventh Heaven or the Seven Seas. In the case of Beach House’s “7,” it also refers to Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s seventh full-length album, with their joint output at 77 songs and the last song on the record 7 minutes long.

Furthermore, the band also notes the visual similarity between one and seven, considering the latter as an ideal opportunity for a career restart. And what an entirely propitious launch of a new phase it is.

Opener “Dark Spring” has a Cure-like opening drum fill and just when its psychedelic vibes are about to pull you under, the brightness of the refrain brings light. “Dive” is similarly bipolar, with a dreamy start and a manic conclusion, while ballad “Pay No Mind” is defined by its drums’ slow thump that anchors the etherealness of the rest of the track.

If anything, “7” proves that even after over 13 years together, Beach House is not merely playing by numbers.

—Pablo Gorondi, Associated Press

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