Courtney Barnett is the reigning queen of observational non sequiturs. She loves to write details — how tight a woman’s ponytail is in “Elevator Operator,” the exact change she might save on coffee per week if she buys an espresso machine in “Depreston.” Her sophomore album, Tell Me How You Really Feel was a bit of a departure from Barnett’s earlier work. Instead of focusing on the minutiae of things happening around her, she looked at the broader picture — toxic masculinity, how hard it is to gain and keep respect in relationships.
“Small Talk,” which was originally recorded in the sessions for Tell Me How You Really Feel, was cut from the album but was released today as part of a compilation celebrating the 10th anniversary of Barnett’s label, Mom + Pop. “Small Talk” is classic Barnett — it’s five and a half minutes of fun, with a mid-song organ jam and loose, playful lyrics. It’s a trip to try and follow Barnett’s logic in the lyrics. She begins by talking about her brother, his “cool girlfriend,” and how she might someday be “a cool auntie, yeah!” She plays the good hostess, asking if she can get someone a soda Campari with lemon, then sings that she’s “got better things to do than shave my legs.”