Parquet Courts

Human Performance

Rough Trade

Apr 07, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Andrew Savage works through tough emotions on the title track to the new Parquet Courts record. He questions his own emotional sincerity after a breakup and parses whether his reactions were the result of societal programming. Was he acting, giving a "human performance?" Did he, in his words, simply behave as a malfunctioning apparatus?

Emotion is not a word that would have quickly come to mind on past Parquet Courts recordssure, emotions lurk behind the smart-ass monotone and frustrated, sarcastic bark. But the lyrical targets were largely externaldigital morass, control, the mundane and the absurd, the modern condition. The aim is pointed inward here, and Savage really sings for the first time on the title track, conveying a tenderness not previously revealed by the band.

Old themes are not totally absent. Opener "Dust," with its call and response refrain, plays on regular, recurring topics. It's the kind of unshowy writing that made a song about choosing between Swedish Fish or liquorice one of the most compelling post-punk songs of the decade.

There are no radical departures from past albums, but this is the most crisply recorded and varied Parquet Courts record yet. Musical ideas hinted at previously appear here in full color. "One Man, No City" rides out on a long Krautrock coda. A twitchy spaghetti western riff begins each verse of "Berlin Got Blurry." Savage's nonchalant delivery here belies the lyrical dexterity of his songwriting. On the page, the words appear closer to prose than poetry, paragraphs that should not fit into rhythm or musical structure. And yet they do, natural and unrushed: "Döner wrapper done rightan extinguished crutch of a rollie inside yellow fingers/Nothing lasts but nearly everything lingers in life/Cell phone service, it's not that expensive, but that takes commitment and you just don't have it." It's a kiss-off song that leaves blood on the tracks, and summarizes nearly everything great about the band: a locked-in groove and smart writing that finds the most in small details without slouching on bigger ideas. (www.parquetcourts.wordpress.com)

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