Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal

by Rob Taylor Rating:8.5 Release Date:2014-06-02

Parquet Courts, pronounced Pahr-kay, release their new album, Sunbathing Animal on 2nd June. Parquet also describes the division of floor space between musicians and spectators, an area of encroachment not unlike an isthmus which opens and closes according to the tides. A metaphor for artistic freedom against the desire to build bridges to their fans? Or maybe just the area where the band can interact more intimately with the people who love them.

The promotional material which accompanied the review album was at pains to mention that Parquet Courts are not impressed with the ’slacker’ tag. Sure, I mean, who likes to be pigeon-holed?  Damn though if  'Dear Ramona' isn’t the best song that Stephen Malkmus never wrote for Jonathan Richman. Savage’s adenoidal voice and delivery make that imputation a fair one. The guitar stylings are so familiar that I was falling over myself to find my Pavement records. That’s a compliment by the way. 

Elsewhere on tracks ‘Bodies‘, ‘Vienna II‘, ‘Instant Disassembly’ and ‘Raw Milk‘, the spirit of Wowee Zowee lives on. There, I’ve said it, I can move on. 

I’m not being facetious. It is true that the “slacker indie” tag is not an adequate, or indeed accurate, description of the music on Sunbathing Animal. In fact, if I had to describe the album against a history of the underground, I would prefer to compare most of it against the lo-fi punk machinations of Billy Childish, the pensive post-punk of Magazine, or the manic ruminations of Mark E Smith. 

My overriding view of Sunbathing Animal though, is that the collective musical talents of Parquet Courts supplant the impression that the material is in any way derivative. The songwriting here is very strong. The musical personality so very alpha. The energy so very young and now. The polymer hairstyles self referential, and yet the lack of pretension so refreshing.

Parquet Courts have produced a classic . For every quirky and highly enjoyable track of the breed ‘not to be mentioned‘, there's a stonking full tilt rocker spitting venom and blood. Take ‘Black and White’ and ‘Duckin and Dodgin’ for instance. Screeching guitar feedback, transmission-lost hiss, and urgent three-chord goodness. Great punk rock nuggets.  “Black and White” with its precision, controlled feedback and structural control, is the obvious first single off the rack. The same facility for tasty nuggets is heard on “She’s Rollin”, with its rumbling bass line, punchy drumming, and more controlled feedback. Some tracks finish abruptly, with an urgent transition to the next. This impatience sits well with the stylistic shufflings on the album. 

Sunbathing Animal is destined to be on a lot of Top 10 lists in 2014.

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