Sunday, December 11, 2016

Albums of the Year # 15 Parquet Courts

Another old post. From early in the year when Parquet Courts Human Performance first came out.

'Dust is everywhere. Sweep!'

I'm already deeply enamored with the new Parquet Courts album, which is just out on Rough Trade Records. To such a degree that I'll almost certainly buy myself a vinyl version fairly shortly despite going through a belt-tightening phase at the minute, because the record casts a tighter spell on me every time I listen to it.

Parquet Courts are in an interesting place right now. Their last record made it to # 55 on the American Billboard Charts. Albums by left-field alternative bands don't generally make it so far these days. This record seems sure to go further still as it's a definite stride forward, with several of the best songs they've ever recorded and the whole thing glowing with confidence.

There's an assured clockwork tick-tock efficiency about much of the album, a willingness from the band to not be content with what they've already achieved, stare at their shoes and skulk in the shadows and play for the select few. This is heartening. Of course what they're doing is by no means unprecedented, Far from it obviously, though it's no less thrilling for that. Parquet Courts are working within a finely honed alternative guitar tradition going back to 1967 and the first Velvet Underground record.  You'll recognise moments from your own record collection if you come from a similar place to them. At various points I picked up Stooges, Velvets, Modern Lovers, Mission of Burma, Meat Puppets, Television, Sonic Youth, Wire and of course Pavement, an oft-stated influence, though this band are more like Pavement with a heart and devoid of that particular group's superior, entitled smirk.

On second song, the album's title track, they lift the descending melodic line of Wire's Outdoor Miner, one of the best pop infiltrations from the leftfield ever written and augment it to stunning effect to create one of my favourite things from this year. Elsewhere, they plough more familiar furrows, but flesh it all out to a greater degree than they ever have before. They're growing, like all the best bands do. They have something of a swagger about them now. On the record's longest track, One Man No City at differing points of this song their guitars invoke the spirits of first Teenage Riot and then Heroin, and they're no mere steals but testaments to a band entering their imperial phase. It's an album that seems sure to reap further rewards the more it's played. Have a listen!

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