Combining the gospel, jazz and doo-wop sounds of soul, and the stylized rhythmic sounds of …
Parquet Courts has made a habit of creating music. Before you laugh at the obtuseness of that statement, consider the group’s sheer output. Since 2013, they’ve made or collaborated on at least one album per year–sometimes two–and demos as well. For the post-punk quartet, music creation is simply a constant. Last year’s Milano found the group working with noted Italian composer Daniele Luppi to produce an ode to the “drinking city” of Milano, Italy. The pairing, while unexpected, seemed to instigate an added layer to Parquet Courts’ sound–a softer side; a side that found a little room to breathe in between the typically ferocious drumming and relentless guitar work the group is known for.
Wide Awake! seems to pick up where they left off. The instrumentals are just as intense as ever, but the craft of the individual tracks, as well as their line-up on the record, demonstrates that some of Luppi’s sensibilities stuck with them.
Interestingly, a common thread also connects Parquet Courts and Luppi: the producer Danger Mouse. Luppi collaborated with Danger Mouse on 2011’s Rome, a spaghetti Western-inspired soundscape that tapped into reverberating space to generate a motion-filled sonic narrative. Parquet Courts is continually unafraid to pursue the unexpected: witness Danger Mouse collab, exhibit one.
Although Wide Awake! eschews the same expansive finality, it finds the band taking a slightly lighter touch to its songs. Perhaps that is due to Danger Mouse’s pop sensibility, but rather than it feeling like the group went pop, it feels as though they simply absorbed the polished traits of the producer to develop, frankly, an album full of thrashy excellence.
“Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” is a twitchy two-parter that finds A. Savage ripping through throaty vocals matched by chords, startling breaks and a pounding beat that still somehow manages to feel laid back right before it kicks into the double-timed part two. The eponymous title track is probably the funkiest thing Parquet Courts has ever done, in the truest sense of the word. If you find the possibility of a punk/funk crossover intriguing, this one’s for you. This speaks to the unexpectedness of the album as a whole. Closer “Tenderness” even busts out an acoustic piano–acoustic!
Parquet Courts doesn’t know how to take steps backward. Each album is exemplary of a group that pursues new sounds with an obsessive fervor. Wide Awake! embraces a heads-up exploration of sounds and structures outside of the band’s normal élan, culminating in a fully listenable and sincerely stellar record.