Sharing a basket of chips and sipping a schooner at the Rosemount Hotel, Courtney Barnett jovially thanks me for getting her out of loading in gear for a gig with wife Jen Cloher.

That night the Melbourne garage rocker will shred guitar as part of Cloher’s band, brown hair cascading over her contorted face.

Barnett loves being out of the spotlight, what she calls “a different mindset”.

In addition to touring Europe, the US and Australia with her missus (they haven’t made it official, yet), Barnett played a month of North American shows with Philadelphian indie rocker Kurt Vile on their collaborative 2017 album Lotta Sea Lice. Cloher opened with solo sets.

“Doing so many things keeps it all fresh and (you) on your toes,” she says. “I’m not very good with taking holidays.”

Barnett is ready — or as ready as she’ll ever be — for the focus to return to her with the release of second album Tell Me How You Really Feel.

The excellent 10-tracker is the follow-up to 2015’s Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, which made the unassuming 30-year-old an international star.

Courtney Barnett Picture: Pooneh Ghana

She earned a Grammy nomination, moved up several font sizes on festival posters and became a regular on US TV, most notably performing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the season finale of Saturday Night Live.

Barnett actually played two songs on SNL in mid-2016, including the self-deprecating Pedestrian at Best.

Still, after all the acclaim and shows around the world, it is a surprise that her new album features a song titled Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence.

The genius grunge-rock tune about struggling to write a genius grunge-rock tune reveals that Barnett has suffered from imposter syndrome.

“I’m my own worst critic, so I’m always striving to do better and be better,” she says. “It’s good, in a way. It shows you care.”

On the day of our interview, Barnett unveiled the second single from the album, the yearning, pastoral rock ballad Need a Little Time.

While it’s her favourite song on the new album (and Spotify immediately plastered it on their Times Square billboard), Barnett admits to feeling anxious before it was released.

“It’s so terrifying,” she says. “I realise that I always feel a bit sick the day before a song goes up.”

Courtney Barnett Picture: Pooneh Ghana

That’s typical honesty from an artist who first came to public attention via Avant Gardener, her 2013 single about a panic attack.

On the new album Barnett sings about finding “inner-peace in the north-east” of Melbourne on Help Your Self (a song she wrote when she was 15 or 16), where she lives with Cloher (and their cat Bubbles) and works at their record label, Milk! Records.

“It’s a little tongue in cheek,” she says. “Each year I grow older I kind of figure out how not to be anxious, how not to have panic attacks and how not to be depressed.”

Bubbles helps with her state of mind, but not so much with her music career.

“She doesn’t really like it when we play music. She hates the guitar,” Barnett laughs. “If we’re playing guitar it means we’re not paying her attention.”

Luckily for the feline, last year Milk! Records moved their operations into a warehouse in the inner-city suburb of Coburg.

In-between stuffing envelopes with records and T-shirts from the label’s burgeoning roster (they recently signed solo act Hachiku), Barnett wrote most of Tell Me How You Really Feel at the new HQ.

She says the album is about communication, whether it be striving for openness in intimate relationships or less loving interactions on the internet.

First single Nameless, Faceless crash-tackles online trolls, labelling their hateful behaviour as stemming from fear and ignorance.

“I just read 1984, then I was watching The Handmaid’s Tale,” Barnett explains. “I was in this weird dystopian world of books and TV.”

She quotes Margaret Atwood in the song: “Men are scared that women will laugh at them/ Women are scared that men will kill them.”

“That seemingly harmless chatter can turn into physical violence because it diminishes people and makes it seem OK,” Barnett says.

Barnett and Cloher threw their support behind Camp Cope when the Melbourne punk rockers called out the Falls Festival for gender disparity. During our chat, Barnett says that “big festivals have a responsibility to make their events diverse ... it’s not like there’s a lack of talent”.

While 45 international music festivals pledged to have parity by 2022, the Melburnian insists they should “just do it (now), I just hear people making excuses”.

“I’m just a songwriter, a musician,” Barnett continues. “I don’t know the answers to everything but I know what I believe in and what’s right and wrong.

“A lot of my songs are trying to work out how to express it, because I’m not good at verbally expressing it.

“Don’t be racist. Don’t be homophobic. Pull your f...... head in,” she says. “How much simpler can you say that?”

Spot on. Tell us how you really feel.

Disclosure: Jen Cloher bought the chips.

Tell Me How You Really Feel is released on May 18.

Courtney Barnett plays Metropolis Fremantle on August 18. Tickets from Oztix.