What’s Your Rupture? / Mom & Pop
There’s a comfortable, worn-in feeling that comes from listening to Parquet Courts. That rambling, too-cool-to-care, slacker punk sound was fully realized in their sophomore album Light Up Gold. So where do they grow from here?
This year’s full length installment Sunbathing Animal is no departure. The sound as a whole is very familiar if you’ve heard Light Up Gold, but it has a few surprises laying in wait. The opening track Bodies Made Of, cues a carefully down-stroked guitar verse. Singer Andrew Savage calls out: “Bodies made of” to which in unison the band responds: “Slugs and guts.” Savage’s vocals take on a just above speaking inflection coupled with the occasional off-tone bleating. The moody, stomping chorus provides a perfect payoff to the stuttering first few moments. Then, in a late song bridge, you get your first indication that you’re not listening to Light Up Gold. The bridge opens open up into a slow, swaying, Doors-like trance that lets a little slack out of the wound up chorus. It’s the first of two out of nowhere departures in the LP.
As you progress through the album, it’s clear that the Courts want to split their time between high energy haunts and just zoning the hell out. It doesn’t create an every-other track pattern like the first three songs may suggest, but by the time you get to Dear Ramona, you’ll realize that you’re going to be taking a lot of breathers in this LP for better or for worse.
Some selections like Black and White and She’s Rolling break into noisy, guitar pedal scientist mania sessions akin to their live performances. To imagine, conjure the sounds that made Nigel Tufnel storm off during their gig at an Air Force base in This is Spinal Tap. Only these squelches and beeps are fully intended by guitarist Austin Brown. The layers of noise are always skinned upon a firm vertebrae of drums, rhythm guitar or sometimes even hand claps. You’ll never quite leave your musical footing during this listen.
Then there’s the title track. The most gasping lyrical entries from the already breathless Savage are in full effect on Sunbathing Animal. These are the slam dancing riffs you’re looking for. For a song that consists mostly of one chord hammered over and over again, this repetitive demon of a song still hosts plenty of variation to keep your ears busy. Animal takes on arguably the most heady of topics: unrequited love spiraling into a full on existential crisis shared by many-a sophomore philosophy major. Then the song brings it on home with the repetition of the song title backed by the kind of 1-2-1-2 hand claps you can only imagine happening as pairs of knees alternate high hurdling in the aisle of the jounciest Baptist revival this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
Up All Night, which immediately follows, demonstrates where this LP disappoints. The track fades into the weirdest tease of a rotating, Strokes-like jam, the second unexpected departure. Just as you’ve gotten really into the groove, it ends. You wanted more, but not in the “leave ‘em wanting more” kind of way. Instead you’re left wondering why some of the less memorable tracks like Dear Ramona or Instant Disassembly weren’t nixed to make room for a fully realized Up All Night. Then you realize you’re listening to a punk album and that you’ve just found the ‘gotcha’.
There are some great tracks that you’ll revisit over and over again, but the album as a whole won’t grip onto your turntable for long. It’s clear that Parquet Courts are rebellious of something, of what I’m not sure.
Wait for it…