Track Review: Courtney Barnett – How to Boil an Egg

By Patrick Dalziel (JoyDscvryPaddy)

It seems we’re getting quite a bizarre insight into Courtney Barnett’s live rider in her latest singles. First we heard of her ramen noodle addiction in Three Packs a Day, and now we have this yolk titled oddity. Although thankfully, this isn’t just Barnett’s progression into releasing “foodie” music. It is instead a reworking of one of the first songs the ridiculously talented Australian singer/songwriter ever wrote. 

Telling the story of life in her early twenties, How to Boil an Egg may be less humourous than Barnett’s breakthrough singles such as Elevator Operator or Avant Gardener. But, the rework has introduced her atypical guitar style to great effect. A garage spin on psychedelic/surf rock, which creates a sound that is borderline inimitable. Even if it is played with slightly more caution here than in previous entries.

This is knowingly done however, to reflect on what was clearly a tough time in the singer’s life. With lyrics such as “Every morning I feel more useless than before, trying hard to see the point in anything at all” It’s one of her most self deprecating songs undoubtedly. Yet this harshness acts as one of the song’s most clever devices. We’re given an extremely intimate insight into the life of a struggling musician. Through the trivialisation of difficulties young artists face on a daily basis.

With a less talented writer than Barnett at the helm, this could have come off as heavily misjudged. Thankfully this isn’t the case here, as each verse gives only the slightest insight into the lifestyle. Reflecting upon the monotony of trying to break through in the industry, as days fall into the repetitive nature of playing gigs and waiting to be noticed. This existential theme plays perfectly against the garage psychedelia mentioned before. The result of which is a joyously contrasting sound, that allows How to Boil an Egg to stand out amongst Barnett’s already very impressive back catalogue.






Published by

Patrick Dalziel

Student journalist at Edinburgh Napier University

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