(What’s Your Rupture?)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
If any of the Pavement-inspired indie bands out there have outgrown the comparison, it’s Parquet Courts. While contemporaries struggle to find identity beyond their influences, the New York-quartet manages to flaunt them like they’ve never been in style. What’s more, after fronting three unique, semi-successful bands, people are finally taking notice of the understated brilliance of Andrew Savage’s songwriting.
Like Stephen Malkmus and Doug Martsch before them, Savage and Courts co-songwriter Austin Brown like their amps loud, even if they struggle to sing over them. The strange marriage of infectious hooks and dissonant experimentation can be mesmerizing, but the deceptively deliberate lyrics are what makes repeat listens rewarding. It also provide a context for the band’s weirdness, allowing the project to exist as a fully realized concept, a modern response to a question once answered by classic New York art punk-alums like Lou Reed and Television.
With their latest release, Content Nausea, the band (redubbed Parkay Quarts for the release) turn down their guitars and let their words stand tall. Listeners drawn to the band for the Strokes-esque guitar pop of their first album, Light Up Gold, might be in for disappointment as it is noticeably absent.
Instead we’re treated to a combination of short, instrumental segments and lyrically-driven, radical, long jams that sound familiar, yet unpredictable enough to demand further listening (“The Map” sounds like a continuation of Silver Jews “The Country Diary of a Subway Conductor”). The album is at its strongest on tracks like “Slide Machine,” and “Pretty Machines,” where the band finds a middle ground.
The highlight of the release is the breathing of new life into a song from Savage’s days with the Teenage Cool Kids, “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth,” which again see’s the band shelving hooks for narrative. It pays off five minutes into the song when the band explodes into one of its catchiest vocal melodies to date to finish off an EP that’s significance will be questioned by some, and obvious to others.