Parquet Courts - Human Performance

by Kenzie Fitzpatrick Rating:8 Release Date:2016-04-08

Sometimes, when a breakup occurs, it makes room for both parties (however heartbroken they may be at the time) to move on to better (and/or more appropriate) things. In the case of Andrew Savage’s previous band, Teenage Cool Kids, and their breakup, I was the one who felt jilted.

However, when I heard about Savage’s new band, Parquet Courts, I was cautious, yet excited and curious (like someone running into a former flame might be). As you can imagine, I was hooked the moment I heard 2012’s Light Up Gold (along with every subsequent release). The band’s latest effort, Human Performance, feels just that - human. It questions existence, relationships, and the meaning of life. And don’t worry, it still sounds like a Parquet Courts record.

Album opener, ‘Dust’, is a driving earworm that captures the ever-so-common feelings of anxiety and stress that can be brought on by living in cluttered quarters. Closing with feedback-laden guitar atop an orchestra of car horns, it’s a song that screams New York.

What follows is the album’s title track – which is easily singer/guitarist Savage’s most vulnerable song to date. ‘Human Performance’ reflects on the beginnings and consequently, the end of a relationship and the questions and doubts that often follow. He sings, “I know I loved you, did I even deserve it when you returned it?” It’s refreshingly genuine – especially considering that it’s coming from a band that has a history of not taking themselves very seriously.  

‘Captive Of The Sun’ paints a crystal clear picture of the sounds of New York, and like ‘Dust’, also features some of the city’s classic sounds. “It’s a drive-by lullaby that couldn’t get worse / A melody abandoned in the key of New York,” and if you let, it will take you there.

‘Steady On My Mind’ recalls Denton After Sunset-era Teenage Cool Kids. It’s dazed, mellow pace, and sunbaked guitar tones make ‘Steady On My Mind’ sound like it was taken straight from the pages of Teenage Cool Kids’ book.

‘Berlin Got Blurry’ details feelings of isolation and anxiety and (even with its Western-y vibes) manages to get the feeling across quite well. Andrew Savage sings, “Feels so effortless to be a stranger / But feeling foreign is such a lonely habit,” and as cool and detached as he may sound, it only amplifies the sentiment.

Long-time fans of Parquet Courts should know by now that having any real expectations surrounding what the band might do next is a little bit ridiculous. Parquet Courts’ most endearing quality is their proclivity for surprising listeners and never failing to keep things interesting. Human Performance may be the most mature offering from Parquet Courts yet – but it doesn’t skimp on fun, either. I’m already waiting to see what they will do next.

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