Tell Me How You Really Feel

Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel
Critic Score
Based on 40 reviews
2018 Ratings: #112 / 850
Year End Rank: #16
User Score
Based on 638 ratings
2018 Ratings: #206
Liked by 9 people
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Pretty Much Amazing

A slump this is not. Tell Me How You Really Feel is instead an intentionally muted triumph and an emotional recalibration.

Slant Magazine

The singer-songwriter's impossibly effortless tunesmithing remains a preternatural force. But this time, it's accompanied by heavier subjects, more personal confessionals, and a sense that Barnett's cheery melodies exist solely to keep her from being crushed by the weight of the world.

The result, like much of ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’, is dark, haunting, and cathartic.
Northern Transmissions

Though it’s certainly as lyrically fun as its predecessor, it’s just not as immediately biting as her previous album and will take time to grow on listeners.

Under The Radar

It's full of incessantly catchy guitar riffs; a keen, driving rhythm section; and the unparalleled witty lyrics with which Barnett made her name. But it also bursts with more contradictions and a wider variety of personal intimacies than ever before.

Consequence of Sound

As expected, Tell Me How You Really Feel still finds Barnett writing “Courtney Barnett” songs, but there’s an unmistakable growth in the Aussie’s compositions.


‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ is Courtney Barnett at her angriest and most vulnerable, but being a drinker of details means she can also blow the beauty of life’s little things up to full-size.

Loud and Quiet
‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ has Barnett more pointed, political (there’s a strong feminist bent throughout) and purposeful than we remember her from last time, but the self-awareness and incisive perception that truly define it have been there all along: they just burn brighter and ring louder the bigger her platform becomes.
Even in its shadowy, darker moments, ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ musically is so perfectly natural and at ease with itself it’s positively infectious.

Tell Me How You Really Feel is a wonderfully curated record, which manages to be both cynical and whimsical at the same time. The depth of musical ambition and of poetic expression deserve a suitably large audience’s attention.

The Independent

Her music has always been unfussy, and while the songs here lack the scuzzy charm of her debut, Tell Me How You Really Feel is a weightier, more direct record.


Courtney Barnett's (solo) followup to Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit finds an artist who has grown more introspective as a writer, more outspoken as a singer and more imaginative (and a lot louder) as a guitarist.

‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ is a more mature record, and lyrically the most direct and honest Courtney has been to date.
The Guardian

There is a sharp edge to much of the Australian musician’s brilliant, potent second album, the follow-up to 2015’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. The matter-of-fact malaise of her debut remains, but where before it felt aimless, here it has hardened into something pointed and direct.

The Skinny
Despite the gentle forays into new styles, the universally relatable stories are still well and present, with enough morbid humour, intricately drawn character studies and down-to-earth wisdom to keep you coming back again and again.
Not one for instant gratification, ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ benefits from the nurturing and patience mentioned in its lyrics. After the cheap - but definitely magical – thrills of her debut, this is a slow-burning triumph.
Drowned in Sound
While instrumentally it’s not much of a departure from the Pavement- era jangly garage chords that appeared on her previous work, it’s a notable shift in perception. In a world where one needs to navigate between digital alter-egos or compromised versions of the truth, Barnett is a reliable source to serve up her raw inner reality through song.
The Line of Best Fit
There are no easy answers, not for the listener to unwrap, and not even for Barnett herself - but that's never what was on offer. What Barnett does offer with her second record is a deep breath of fresh air, a pause for thought wrapped up in distortion and fuzzed up refrains.
Rolling Stone

Tell Me How You Really Feel is noisy and way more pissed off than her 2015 debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, unsheathing sharp new earnestness alongside her trademark sabers of sarcasm and penetrating observation.

NOW Magazine

Tell Me How You Really Feel is her most inward-looking album but also one that pulls back to engage with bigger political and cultural conversations more directly than we’re used to from her.

No Ripcord

The performances are muscular and attention-grabbing, and the melodies built around her distress take new and zestful contours.

Barnett is hopefully never going to mature into a straightforwardly po-faced confessional singer-songwriter, but It feels like she now trusts the power of her music to imbue even cliché with emotional power. The hardest working woman in slacker rock doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.
God Is in the TV

Is it a coincidence that it’s released in Mental Health Awareness Week? Maybe. Is it reassuring to hear these anthems to misery coming from one of the best songwriters in the world? Absolutely.

The 405

Courtney manages to strike a balance between sombre acoustic music and guitar heavy grunge. Utilizing the balance to create atmosphere from song to song.

Spectrum Culture

Tell Me How You Really Feel is an album that doesn’t pander, doesn’t seem to capitulate to what Barnett’s fans already like and expect from her.


Courtney Barnett’s second album is smaller, more introverted than her debut. It’s tentative but with a purpose, songs about what it means to not have—or need—the right words for everything.

This album sounds of a piece with her past, if a bit more sinister, and it's no worse for that similarity, particularly as she continues to mix in casual lines with sharp expression.

Everything about Tell Me How You Really Feel seems muted, whether it's the grungy stomp of Barnett and her band-a group who remains steadfastly and proudly stuck in the glory days of '90s alt-rock-or her words, which now seem to meander to a point instead of cutting to a quick.

The Needle Drop

Courtney's vocal performances aren't much less humdrum on Tell Me How You Really Feel than they were on her debut, but the slightly brighter and more aggressive instrumentation this time around offers a welcome change of pace.

A.V. Club

Tell Me How You Really Feel is a disappointing and muted record that never quite lives up to its potential.

Starts off amazing, but the last three tracks lose me a little bit if I'm being honest. Great album, and it definitely makes me excited to hear her previous work.

Favorite Tracks: City Looks Pretty, Hopefulessness, 'Nameless, Faceless,' Charity, Need A Little Time, Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Self Confidence (same)

Least Favorite Track: Walkin' On Eggshells
Hopefully the album that will bring us all together after Dirty Computer inevitably causes the biggest war between the AOTY gays and the AOTY critics since Masseduction.
Space Vacation
This merits money, success and accolades.

I was going to go track by track like Young Fathers and give out star ratings but there's virtually no point this time.
Needless to say there are a lot of ***** tracks, a lot of ****1/2 tracks and nothing lower than ****1/4.

Update: Going to go all out right now and say this is Courtney Barnett's Pinkerton. It's that good.
This will stick with me for a long time.
She's legendary.

*Please don't fall off the talent mountain like Rivers Cuomo*

Original ... read more
The expressively intriguing guitar work on Tell Me How You Really Feel is the only thing separating the record from other a drab standard indie rock experiences. The music is littered with some nice string layering and tonally invigorating playing, It's not masterful but it gives the record some memorable qualities. The guitar work is noisy though, noisy and energetic, and when combined with Courtney Barnetts casual and minimalist vocal style it really buries her expressiveness and creates a ... read more
Courtney Barnett is one of the several singers of this growing wave of modern indie rock artists. She is able to cast raw melodies contrasting with vulnerable and sensitive but humorous lyrics. This style was present in her previous album, but in "Tell Me How You Really Feel", Courtney sounds more personal and intimate, with her describing her insecurites and views in the world alongside a beautiful guitar instrumentation.

Favs: Need a Little Time, Nameless, Faceless, I'm Not Your ... read more
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Added on: February 14, 2018