Artist: Parquet Courts
Title: Sunbathing Animals
Record Label: What’s Your Rupture?/Mom+Pop
Without much fanfare at the top end of 2013, NYC based foursome Parquet Courts dispensed with their debut album proper, ‘Light Up Gold’; a record that’s a rough garage-punk clatter gloriously indebted to their adopted habitat. The subsequent reaction to the band’s first long player made up for its muted arrival. Essentially, ‘Light Up Gold’ positioned Parquet Courts as one of the world’s most lauded new bands. Follow up EP, ‘Tally All the Things That You Broke’ continued the quartet’s upward trajectory with a tweaked template of sound that illustrated ‘Light Up Gold’s coarse appeal merged with something more exploratory.
Not content with standing still, album two is here and unlike its predecessor the band’s sophomore LP, ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is being born into a world now with expectations, ones that carry a high water mark. Prior to ‘Sunbathing Animal’ gracing our ears, the NYCers summarised their latest body of work as being either songs that are structurally simple with complex lyrics or the flip side, sonically complicated with provincial word play. Suffice to say, Parquet Courts self-commentary is pretty accurate, ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is an album of eschewing contradictions, songs can be either one note wonders or drag on with a Groundhog Day like monotony, whilst a proportion of the tracks have a searing, direct nature that’s punchy and concise.
Ostensibly it would seem Parquet Courts have got a shit load of ideas and this makes their latest album a patchy affair. Akin to sneaking a peak into the band’s studio whilst they flesh out songs or tearing out pages from the band’s song book, ‘Sunbathing Animal’ lacks a succinct vision. Yes, it’s varied with tracks that just about push a minute while others slide along to almost seven times that length, no matter what the duration, a song of repeated refrains can really drag. Coupled with the fact numerous moments are stripped back to the bare bones, there are occurrences where Andrew Savage’s voice becomes exposed and borderline tuneless.
Opening brace, ‘Bodies’ and ‘Black and White’ set the scene for a rattling run through from where ‘Light Up Gold’ left off. Snappy, fidgeting with purpose, Parquet Courts bristle with a ramshackle tendency. Then, the dirgy ‘Dear Ramona’ kills the momentum with a sedate slog through minimal chord scaling and Savage’s monotone delivery. From here the album falters with a chunk of the record stuttering to the sound of the band’s own experimentations. ‘Sunbathing Animal’s lengthier numbers, ‘She’s Rollin’ and ‘Instant Disassembly’ shuffle and trudge with little purpose whilst ‘Duckin and Dodgin’ ramps up the volume into something more raucous, the repeated bass and drum pulse coupled with the song title being repeated countlessly is just irritating. ‘Vienna II’ could easily have been left off the album but luckily the record’s title track injects some much needed punk bombast and the siren like guitar scuffle to ‘Always Back In Town’ is a much needed highlight in a record of misfires.
Disappointingly, this vitamin D absorbing beast won’t be catching many rays, due to unexpected cloud cover. When the good moments shine through ‘Sunbathing Animal’ can be bronzing nicely but on the whole, any hopes for a full on tan are slim.
Word and Thoughts of Adam Williams