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ALBUM REVIEW: Parquet Courts ‘Sunbathing Animal’

Parquet Courts Sunbathing Animal

Everything got a lot livelier when Andrew Savage and his Texas punk gang showed up, bustling with attitude and shooting off wisecracks far wittier and faster than any band out there. From inception, Parquet Courts had declared only one goal for the group’s career: to overwhelm and overthrow a music scene starved for “emotional honesty” with raging guitar freak-outs, thought-provoking lyrics and a swooping sense of melodrama, as seen in popular band  singles, such as  “Master of My Craft” and “Borrowed Time.”

But even after releasing the 2012 long-winded epic Light Up Gold and burning up the underground tour circuit, and not without mention, the coveted stage of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, it turns out Parquet Courts were just running a warmup lap. For its sophomore effort Sunbathing Animal, the Brooklyn-based quartet charges through a hot-oozing stream of hard-hitting rock grooves and battering-ram guitar blasts.

Sunbathing Animal opens with three minutes of skittish, zig-zagging and eccentric fury. “Bodies” is the sort of uproar most bands would want to place strategically before or just following the album’s climax and mid-point, but for the hyperactive and raging Parquet Courts, every song represents a new height and peak moment for the group. And, so forward they march.

Second track in line is “Black and White”—a bluesy rock gem, which takes a dark and unexpected turn when Parquet Courts frontman changes paths on the six-lane highway of his mind, shifting from provocation to introspection. “Is the solitude I seek a trap/ Where I’ve been blindly led?/ Tell me, where, then do I go instead?” the indie-rock crooner howls out, before being swept up by a dizzying lo-fi rush that eases listeners into the free-ranging and sprawling nature of the album’s middle core songs, like “Dear Ramona” and “She’s Rollin’.”

For the title track, Parquet Courts snap off cruise control and press full force on the gas to reach the brain-scrambling pace of this four-minute, power-chord mosher. Built on splintering guitar leads and dueling riffs, “Sunbathing Animals” has a rabid energy and crazed exuberance that just may earn it the title of being Parquet Court’s most inventive and experimental single to date. Nevertheless, the real highlight of this 13-song masterpiece comes in the form of a Velvet Underground-esque guitar ballad. Lasting just over seven minutes, “Instant Disassembly” is a breezy, slow number with a old-time-rock edge, anchored by a downtempo bass line and melodic strumming, and later joined by a forlorn organ progression, where Savage whimpers: “Catch me now as I sink into darkness I thought to be extinct/ Shield my eyeballs as the curtains were torn and shed a light so bright/Shining like the day I was born/Mamasita, take from me what I stole.” Its near-perfect electric heartache that will inspire a public love affair not only with the blues rock revival and experimentation, but Parquet Court for years to come.

Sunbathing Animal is scheduled for release on June 3. You can purchase a CD or buy concert tickets here.

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Marissa Framarini

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