Album Review: Parquet Courts, "Sunbathing Animal"

Parquet Courts' mission statement for their third LP, "Sunbathing Animal," comes toward the end of "What Color Is Blood," yelped in monotone between stiff guitar stabs. "I'm listening to a different station," sing frontmen Andrew Savage and Austin Brown. "Slightly harder to find, but with tuning and time, you won't touch that dial again." Less frantic and more lyrically complex, "Animal" isn't as immediate as "Light Up Gold," the band's breakthrough sophomore effort, lauded for its blistering hybrid of 1970s New York punk rock and '90s slacker anthems. But with time and attention, these songs show Parquet Courts graduating from being just another band trying to salvage real rock'n'roll.

About a year-and-a-half ago, critics and fans noticed the Brooklyn-via-Texas foursome's lyrics about doughnuts and military drafts, sung over wiry guitars and ear-splitting feedback. "Light Up Gold" had a moment analogous to The Strokes' "Is This It" in 2001: It gave a good, swift kick in the ass to a local music scene softened by years of milquetoast electro-pop and derivative post-punk.

On "Animal," you won't find a song like "Stoned and Starving," "Gold"'s infamous anecdote about altered-state forays to Queens bodegas. Instead, "Animal" explores the regretful morning after. The slow rock of "Instant Disassembly," for example, finds the narrator on the painfully hungover end of an alcohol-fueled lovers' quarrel. On "Ducking and Dodging," shrill chords pogo around an unmade apology, and the psychedelic "Into the Garden" closes the album with a sleepless night contemplating unpaid dues.

But Parquet Courts have paid theirs: "Animal" shows an act growing up, into itself and beyond its former buzz band confines.


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