In the past ten years, few bands have grown as much as the members of Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts. Going from a group of primarily Texas members to New York transplants making post-punk music, the band has come a long way in a short period of time. Their early years bookmarked with a touch of snark and full on punk energy, the four piece has gone from indie darling to full fledged artists on a larger scale.
But while fans will recall a time when they weren’t the best known group going, much of that has changed. For a band that’s grown in how they arrange and write, Parquet Courts has really never released a bad album. Between 2013’s Light Up Gold and last year’s Wide Awake!, the band has shown that they’re comfortable in any setting, on any stage, and that they can keep us asking for more. With live sets that always impress and lyrics that always cut through the chatter, we have no problem stating that Parquet Courts is one of our favorite acts of the decade.
The era of the earlier works by the band, particularly between Light Up Gold and Sunbathing Animal is rife with experimentation and punk tones. For Light Up Gold, the band has a direct and youthful approach to how they write and perform. Songs like “Borrowed Time” and “Light Up Gold, Pt. 2” have plenty of punk energy while still retaining the band’s earlier post-punk sound. While tracks like “Donuts Only” and “N Dakota” show promise in how the band arranges music. With Sunbathing Animal, the band steers the ship towards a more bohemian version of the genre. The expanse in songwriting between the two is magnificent and grand. While they still sound like themselves, songs like “Bodies Made Of” and “Raw Milk” begin to showcase where the band can take their sound. “Sunbathing Animal” is the best marker of how the band knows how to keep what they’ve built in check while still upping their game.
With the Monastic Living E.P., the band gets hard and goes wild. With the Monastic Living album, they seem to ping pong between sounds, though the experimental side to some of the tracks is masterful in a dada esque way. “Urban Ease” and “No Concept” take this to new levels, while tracks like “Pretty Machines” and the cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” begins to give way to a more directive based sound. That appears with Human Performance in 2016. Blending their more experimental noodling with NYC graces and post-punk structures, the band’s sound is finally revealed on this stellar release. From the (digital only) starter “Already Dead” to the closer “It’s Gonna Happen,” the band opens their idea of what they can be and really take their overall approach to the masses. The tracks “Human Performance” and “Berlin Got Blurry” blur the lines between nonconformist avant garde and post-punk based indie rock. The catchy hooks alone make the album the first accessible to all release of the band’s career.
Which takes us to the band’s latest full length Wide Awake! Produced in Texas by Danger Mouse, the album shakes and rattles with all of the band’s previous tones while opening the doors to a more accessible sound. With these better arranged songs, the straight ahead approach makes for an album laced with catchy bangers. The immediacy of “Total Football,” the chaos of “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” and the short but sweet tone of “NYC Observation” all hit perfectly upon your ears. Where “Before the Water Gets Too High” and “Freebird II” still hold that snark-laden emotive without getting too chill for the moment. The album shows progress across the board, and helps cement an argument for the band being of the best of the last ten years.
Light Up Gold Content Nausea and Sunbathing Animal are available directly from What’s Your Rupture? Monastic Living, Human Performance and Wide Awake are available directly from Rough Trade. All of the band’s releases are available to stream or to purchase from all digital store fronts. Parquet Courts is set to appear at Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City, IA on April 01 through 04, at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, NJ and at Ardmore Music Hall in Ardmore, PA on April 05. Their complete tour schedule is accessible here.
Image Credits: Photo by Ebru Yildiz.