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"It comes out of our promo budget," she says of the show."I figured this would be a lot cooler than buying some ads for the subway."There's time to kill before soundcheck, so we walk to a nearby bar beneath a concrete overpass, where we order micheladas."Part of the point of songwriting for me is that I can work through ideas and issues and emotions — clarify them and make them better," she says."With depression, it's so easy to divert it or take drugs to alleviate it.This is the touring life of one of rock's most beguiling young stars and deftest lyricists.Barnett, 27, is a master of small-bore observations that smudge the line between profundity and banality, set atop swaggering garage riffs.
As she plays it now, Barnett smiles occasionally at microscopic flubs: gently botched strums or missed notes that sound fully of a piece with her winningly ramshackle aesthetic, and which cut against her lyrics' underlying sense of gloom and anger."What's so funny? The pair's romantic partnership doubles as a creative one: Barnett and Cloher run a small label called Milk!
The geographies Barnett narrates in most songs are tiny — drinking wine with friends in a living room; regarding cracks in a plaster wall with the interpretive scrutiny of a palm reader; riding the Epping mass-transit line in Melbourne.
And yet she somehow makes her world feel improbably big. Barnett's breakout hit, the video for which has 1.2 million You Tube views, was a psychedelic romp called "Avant Gardener," which tells a true story of laziness and front-yard weeding that ends in a near-death experience: Hopes of growing radishes gave way to respiratory distress, a panic attack and an ambulance ride with EMTs.
I think it's important to actually feel the pain."fter the performance, Barnett, Bones and Mudie drive to an art gallery in an industrial corner of downtown L. The gallery's front room is lined with pen-and-ink drawings of chairs that Barnett made while trying to figure out the cover art for The chairs were "a literal representation of the album title," she says, "but also a childhood memory.
My dad was always collecting vintage chairs and shit, intending to do them up, but he'd have a bunch of them hanging around the house at any given moment, not doing anything." One room over, roadies are setting up a carpeted stage where, tonight, Barnett will play a show for 200 or so fans, friends, and VIPs like Moby.