Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal
The second album from the raw and raucous indie-rock group contains weird jams for our weird times
With their brilliantly-titled new album Sunbathing Animal, the Brooklyn-based Parquet Courts’ fine-tune their potent combination of noisy guitar jams with cerebral, inward-looking themes, and continue on the course that their first record, 2012’s excellent Light Up Gold, set them on.
The record’s first highlight is second track ‘Black & White’, which features a stomping ‘Ramones played at 33rpm instead of 45rpm’ tempo, a noisy Greg Ginn-esque feedback-laced guitar lead and frontman Andrew Savage relaying his coffee-fueled inner dialogue, which is equally as engaging as the agitated, wiry guitars that weave behind him.
The band also mix it up with a couple of slower moments like ‘Instant Disassembly’ a seven-minute-long jammer with echoes of the Modern Lovers and the Feelies, and ‘She’s Rolling’, which features Savage’s obtuse refrain of 'She’s rolling down a hill and I can still see her when I close my eyes' over a sparse, dissonant guitar and a slow, brooding drum beat
These are arguably the record’s highlights, but without the shorter and faster songs, like ‘Always Back In Town’, a zippy post-punky number, and the title track, an acerbic rager which includes a dueling guitar solo and brings to mind classic 80s hardcore like Minor Threat and the Meat Puppets earliest offerings, the record wouldn’t have such an interesting and varied dynamic, which is one of its charms.
Light Up Gold was made shortly after the band moved to New York City; if it was the soundtrack to being in a new and strange metropolis, complete with all-too-accurate portraits of city life – such as ‘Stoned and Starving’ – then Sunbathing Animal is the sound of a band who have realised that there is a bigger world out there, and have ventured out into it, picking up some new ideas along the way.
There are still the same self consciously slacker-esque sensibilities to a lot of these tunes, but lurking beneath, there’s an underlying feeling from the nervous energy which permeates the record that we’re living in pretty weird times.
It makes sense then that the nucleus of the band, songwriters Andrew Savage and Austin Brown – who also make music as Fergus & Geronimo – originally hail from Texas, where ‘alternative music’ has always been a bit askewed, in the best way possible – from the offbeat early hardcore of the Big Boys to later alt-rock weirdos like the Butthole Surfers – and Parquet Courts continue that tradition.
Granted, a raw and raucous indie-rock group, combining 70s punk, 80s post-punk and 90s college-rock influences is nothing new or weird in 2014 – in fact, it’s distinctly normal. But it’s the way that Parquet Courts temper their boisterous sounds with Americana influences on Sunbathing Animal that ensures they’re far from a by-the-numbers revivalist band, and instead are the best example of a band making weird jams for the weird times they find themselves in.
Sunbathing Animal is released via Rough Trade on Mon 2 Jun. Parquet Courts play SWG3, Glasgow, Sat 21 Jun