|Parquet Courts — Wide Awake! (May 18th, 2018)|
Parquet Courts — Wide Awake! (May 18th, 2018)
∏→ “With Wide Awake!, Parquet Courts treats both figurative and literal forward motion as a cathartic act.”
∏→ Seven albums in, Parquet Courts deliver their most nuanced, diverse LP so far. While their raw, post~punk side is amply present on tracks like “Extinction,” with its Fall~evoking riffs, that’s just one among many arrows in the Brooklyn band’s quiver. Between the children’s choir on “Death Will Bring Change,” the trippy, dub~inflected touches on “Back to Earth,” the G~funk synth lines on “Violence,” and the polyrhythmic, disco~besotted grooves of the title track, Parquet Courts deliver on more fronts than ever before.
Genre: Indie Rock, Post Punk
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Album release: May 18th, 2018
Record Label: Rough Trade
01. Total Football 4:01
02. Violence 4:05
03. Before the Water Gets Too High 4:05
04. Mardi Gras Beads 2:43
05. Almost Had to Start a Fight / In and Out of Patience 3:14
06. Freebird II 2:55
07. Normalization 2:11
08. Back to Earth 3:54
09. Wide Awake 2:38
10. NYC Observation 1:22
11. Extinction 1:41
12. Death Will Bring Change 2:42
13. Tenderness 3:06
℗ 2018 Rough Trade
∏→ Andrew Savage — co~lead vocals, guitar
∏→ Austin Brown — co~lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
∏→ Sean Yeaton — bass guitar, backing vocals
∏→ Max Savage — drums, percussion
∏→ Deluxe Collectors Edition LP featuring a 16~page double art and illustration booklet by A. Savage.
∏→ Parquets Courts’ fifth album Wide Awake! — produced by Danger Mouse — is a groundbreaking work, an album about independence and individuality but also about collectivity and communitarianism. The songs, written by Andrew Savage and Austin Brown but elevated to even greater heights by the dynamic rhythmic propulsion of Max Savage (drums) and Sean Yeaton (bass), are filled with their traditional punk rock passion, as well as a lyrical tenderness. The record reflects a burgeoning confidence in the band’s exploration of new ideas in a hi~fi context.
BY JOSH GOLLER, MAY 6, 2018; SCORE: ****
∏→ Described by Austin Brown as a response to the nihilism born out of our current “hateful era of culture,” Parquet Courts’s sixth album, Wide Awake!, tackles such heavy subject matter as climate change, political corruption, government propaganda, gun violence, and police brutality. Though the Brooklyn post~punk quartet’s songwriting remains prone to tangents, the argument on “Total Football” that “collectivism and autonomy are not mutually exclusive” — a theme that crops up throughout the album — marks a significant thematic progression from hazily “debating Swedish Fish, roasted peanuts, or licorice” on 2012’s “Stoned and Starving.”
∏→ Produced by Danger Mouse, Wide Awake! adds pop polish to Parquet Courts’s usual lo~fi approach, and it ramps up the band’s sneering punk and anti~establishment sensibilities. While 2016’s Human Performance was largely composed of wistful, contemplative ballads that tapped into the aesthetic of influences like the Velvet Underground, Wide Awake! draws from a more eclectic sonic palette: “Before the Water Gets Too High” incorporates a loping reggae beat; sunny, Beach Boys~esque vocal harmonies ripple through the psych~rock~tinged “Mardi Gras Beads”; “Freebird II,” which is infused with a grimy rock organ, harks back to the classic~rock era; and the title track’s funky percussion and nimble basslines draw from modern dance~punk.
∏→ Parquet Courts treats both figurative and literal forward motion as a cathartic act that allows one to shake free from the paralyzing grip of inertia. “Are you put off by our footloose fluidity?” Andrew Savage asks on “Total Football” while framing human beings as “conductors of sound, heat, and energy.” On the raucous anthem “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience,” he sings desperately about resisting the societal conditioning that promotes the status quo, while on “Violence,” he points to mass shootings as a deep-seated symptom of a nation built on state~sanctioned bloodshed.
∏→ Though Savage rattles off a sprawling, rapid~fire litany of socio~political ills throughout Wide Awake!, the musician delivers his proclamations with occasional dashes of absurdist levity, avoiding outright pontification. And the album is at its most intriguing when the band casts a more critical eye toward their own perceptions. On “Normalize,” Savage suspects he’s simply part of a deceptive “prefab experience” while doubting whether he’s even capable of independent thought: “Lately I’ve been curious/Do I pass the Turing test.”
∏→ By taking a more collectivist worldview than they did in their early work, Parquet Courts does more than simply call bullshit on the powers that be. With Danger Mouse’s help, the band has crafted a diverse and intrepid album, stepping out of their comfort zone musically while also exuding a trenchant political posture. Though Savage decries the innumerable times he’s been “outdone by nihilism” on “Tenderness,” it’s clear that the band believes in the transformative power of resistance in the face of a corrosive culture that often mistakes vitriol for virtue and gives credence to the loudest voices.
∏→ Parquet Courts’ special breed of “Americana punk” began in 2010 when some former Texans who had relocated to Brooklyn began practicing and gigging regularly. The band was centered around Fergus & Geronimo songwriter Andrew Savage, and also included guitarist Austin Brown, bassist Sean Yeaton, and drummer Max Savage. Much like Teenage Cool Kids, the band Andrew Savage still split his time with back in his hometown of Denton, Texas, Parquet Courts produced noisy indie rock with jagged punk edges borrowed from late~‘90s guitar~heavy alternative acts. The band played often in the greater New York area and released its first album, American Specialties, exclusively on cassette in late 2011 (a vinyl release followed in 2012). A more widely distributed full~length, Light Up Gold, was issued on the Dull Tools label in the summer of 2012, and the band’s first U.S. tour followed by the end of the year. Light Up Gold quickly caught on and was reissued on Brooklyn label What’s Your Rupture? in early 2013 to wider distribution. They became darlings of the indie rock world thanks to the response to the record from the press, constant touring, and their intractable charm.
∏→ When not on the road, they spent much of their time in the studio recording songs for their next record, with a five~song EP, Tally All the Things That You Broke, surfacing late in 2013. Their third album, Sunbathing Animal, was released in June of 2014, again on What’s Your Rupture?, and again, members of the band followed up with a collection of more slapdash recordings almost immediately, releasing the album~length Content Nausea as Parkay Quarts in November of the same year. In March of 2015, the group’s first concert recording, Live at Third Man Records, was issued. That summer, the band released split 7” singles with Big Ups (on Roekie Records) and Joey Pizza Slice (on Wharf Cat Records). Rough Trade signed Parquet Courts and released the experimental, primarily instrumental Monastic Living EP in November.
∏→ Meanwhile, they were working on their next album, which was the first to have songwriting contributions from all four members. Working at Sonelab studios in western Massachusetts and Wilco’s Loft in Chicago, but mostly at Dreamland Studio in upstate New York (where the B~52s recorded “Love Shack”), the bandmembers spent their days writing songs and their nights recording them. The resulting album, early 2016’s Human Performance, was their darkest and most inward~looking effort to date. In February 2017, the band released a limited~edition 12” single, “Captive of the Sun,” which featured the band collaborating with Bun B of the Texas hip~hop crew UGK as well as producers DJ Candlestick and O.G. Ron C. Later that same year they released Milano, a collaborative album with Italian composer and producer Daniele Luppi. The record also featured guest vocals from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They returned in 2018 with their sixth outing, the Danger Mouse~produced Wide Awake! ~ Fred Thomas
≡ 2014 The Billboard 200 #55
≡ 2014 Top Independent Albums #10
≡ 2014 Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums #14
≡ 2014 Top Rock Albums #14
≡ American Specialties (2011)
≡ Light Up Gold (2012)
≡ Sunbathing Animal (2014) #55 US
≡ Content Nausea (2014) (as Parkay Quarts)
≡ Human Performance (2016) #50 UK
≡ Milano (2017) (with Daniele Luppi)
≡ Wide Awake! (2018)
Rough Trade: https://store.roughtraderecords.com/
|Parquet Courts — Wide Awake! (May 18th, 2018)|