On November 12th, acclaimed Australian artist Courtney Barnett released her third studio album, Things Take Time, Take Time. Her first full release since 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, Things Take Time, Take Time is just another notch in the belt of greatness for Barnett. While I personally prefer Tell Me How You Really Feel, there is so much to love about Things Take Time, Take Time.
The songwriting here is arguably some of Barnett’s best. The lyricism on the singles (“Rae Street,” “Before You Gotta Go,” “Write A List of Things To Look Forward To,” and “If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight”) is top notch, featuring lines like: “Time is money/And money is no man’s friend;” “Pride like poison, always keeping score/You don’t have to slam the door;” “We’ll never learn we don’t deserve nice things;” and “All my fears collided/When our mutual friend confided in me/That there’s a ninety-nine/Percent chance that it’s requited.” That’s not saying there aren’t lyrical gems like this in the album tracks that weren’t single, because there are. It’s just important to note how Barnett sucked in her faithful audience with some incredible singles.
In addition to the incredible lyricism – which, let’s be honest, is no shock coming from Courtney Barnett – the instrumental tracks on these songs are astounding. I once wrote something to the effective of “Courtney Barnett uses instruments to say things that language cannot,” and that was in response to the guitar solo on the 2018 track “Help Your Self.” While Things Take Time, Take Time is arguably more lyric-focused than Tell Me How You Really Feel, there are still instrumental moments like that across this album. None of them are up front and in your face like that guitar solo, but the subtleties of this album get that same point across.
On “Here’s The Thing,” a song about the stress of long-distance, the electronic drums feel like a heartbeat going haywire. Doubling up the vocal and guitar melody in “Before You Gotta Go” makes it seem like both sides of the argument being described are in tandem until the outro. The noticeable lack of guitar for the first half of “Turning Green” gives the idea that Barnett’s inner dialogue doesn’t need to exist in order for the lyrics to be sung. In other words, they’re coming out exactly how they are in her head, with no need to be analyzed. And when the guitar does come in, it sounds like the panic attack brought on by the fears that are “never gonna serve you in the end.”
Barnett has said that one key change made to “Turning Green” “gave the words space and that space was really important for a lot of this album, but this song especially.” And that is the key difference between the songs on this versus Tell Me How You Really Feel or 2015’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. While those albums had incredibly dense instrumental tracks, Things Take Time, Take Time features so much more space for the lyrics. While Barnett has always masterfully navigated the density of her songs, this album is a showcase of her lyrical abilities. Some might say that lack of instrumental density is a detriment, and while, as I previously stated, I do prefer the denser work of Tell Me How You Really Feel, this album still puts Barnett at a solid three-for-three on full-length solo LP releases.
Things Take Time, Take Time is absolutely worth your time (I’m sorry, I had to). While it is a slow burn that doesn’t immediately hit you with the same power as her first two albums, it’s all right there in the title. All things take time to play out how they’re going to, so take the necessary time to let them play out. Don’t try to force things. Everything is going to work how it’s supposed to work. And for Things Take Time, Take Time, that work will be done in the way Barnett’s relatable lyrics fill the space left by the instrumentals.
Take a listen below, and let us know what you think! Also, though her North American tour started on November 27th, there’s still plenty of time to get out and see Courtney Barnett perform live. She has dates booked through February 12th, so take the time (again, I’m sorry) to go see her. You won’t regret it.