Ever feel like everyone in the room is looking at you, judging you, and wishing you would leave?
Courtney Barnett does. In fact, she feels stupid, useless, and insane. Yet, rather than let it fester quietly in her, she’s here to sing about it. The Aussie indie queen of bluesy licks and self-deprecation has returned strong and true to form, in a single for Record Store Day 2019 called “Everybody Here Hates You.” The new song, an outtake from her 2018 album Tell Me How You Really Feel, nods to several twentieth-century rock classics. The title is a reference to Jeff Buckley’s “Everybody Here Wants You,” and Barnett name-drops REM’s “Everybody Hurts” in the second verse. The whole song, with its compulsive self-consciousness and paranoia, channels Radiohead’s “Creep.”
Like these neurotic classics, Barnett might be melancholy, eternally self-effacing and introspective, but she’s self-aware—she knows that her feelings of inadequacy are universal. “They’re probably thinking the same thing,” she reminds herself. This realization lightens the song’s mood and prevents it from being too navel-gazing; while looking inward, she also looks outward to the people around her and to her audience. Her (as always) relatable lyrics play to this awareness—even the best of us have decided to get a haircut on a bad day, hoping for a radical transformation a la The Princess Diaries, only to find that we look exactly the same. The single’s refrain is just as sympathetic and understanding as these relatable moments: “We’re gonna tell everyone it’s okay.” Has any other song about self-hatred ever ended on such a positive, wholesome note?
As for the music working with the lyric, it’s classic Barnett: lush, rollicking guitars, slightly hoarse and lackadaisical vocals, an extended instrumental jam, pretty much what we’ve come to expect from her songs. I’m not surprised by it, but I am happy with it. If you’re ever spiraling with crippling self-doubt and a general lack of confidence, this song will commiserate without bringing you further down. (Much like I imagine Barnett herself would, if you met her at a party.)