parquetcourts

There’s a post on Parquet Courts’ blog that runs through every time they have been called slackers. It’s a lot of times. The Brooklyn-based garage rockers have been pursued by the word since their inception in late 2010, somewhat encouraging the stereotype with song titles as straight-up couch potato as ‘Stoned and Starving’ and ‘Donuts Only’. But the regularity of their output (not to mention the witty and observational bent of their song-writing) should have proved to most listeners that it’s just a musical aesthetic. If not, then the verbose, slightly exhibitionist tunes of ‘Sunbathing Animal’, their fourth record and third LP, will.

Contrary to what their ‘Tally All the Things That You Broke’ EP might have had you believe, ‘Sunbathing Animal’ sees the garage rock sound from their debut left relatively intact. Opener ‘Bodies Made Of’ is an uncompromising piece of punk, changing in and out of gears with practiced efficiency before transitioning into the yelped ‘Black and White’, the second of this visceral, highly enjoyable one-two punch, whose spaceage breakdown is a fleeting moment of futurism on an otherwise retro-sounding album.

They may well have forgone the sonic experimentalism and stuck with the punk vibe but the way Parquet Courts write lyrics and build songs is far from safe. Since the limelight was flung upon them, the four-piece have built a reputation on being difficult, and ‘Sunbathing Animal’ wholly reflects that. Not only are many of these tracks unabashed reactions to media frenzy and feeling like a product (“In the depths of strangers glances lies the most ferocious spark,” sings Andrew Savage on the title track), but they’re so verbose and tightly wound with meaning that you have to listen and re-listen to get any sense of the sentiment behind them.

On the other hand, Punk has always been an immediate genre, and the high-velocity blasts of sound and melody, with repeated riffs, motifs and verses catchy enough to be choruses mean that ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is still incredibly easy to get to grips with. It’s as if the band – who are as adverse to popularity as any of their contemporaries – have gotten used to the idea of people actually listening to their music.

On ‘Instant Disassembly’ Savage sings: “Kept repeating, kept repeating myself / In my native tongue / The parlance of the problem itself.” It sums up the dilemma Parquet Courts are faced with: they shun the limelight, they shun being commodified by the music press, but their native tongue is music, and ‘Sunbathing Animal’ sees them come even closer to mastering it.

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