Genius on a tangent
Maeve Hannigan
14:10 21st October 2021

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Seven albums down and Parquet Courts remind us that they are still living, still creating. You’d expect it to be hard for a band with such a unique sound to grow beyond the point of immediate recognition and bring something new to the table, yet in their most recent offering, Sympathy for Life, their sound is set free like a genius on a tangent. They have distanced themselves from the love-drunk punk of Human Performance, the collective indie urgency of Wide Awake!, and stumbled across an album that lives in the groove. 

‘Walking At A Downtown Pace’ eases us into the new space Parquet Courts have occupied, reassuring us that it’s still them, just from a different side. A. Savage delivers his stream of consciousness with a relatable swagger:  “And how many ways of feeling lousy have I found?” Any open questions are answered by lengthy guitar shreds and just when you think you’ve found the answer, ‘Black Widow Spider’ conquers the confusion. The band stay familiar here and unload the Parquet Courts’ worries over a frantic guitar fuzz. 

‘Marathon Of Anger’ is where the space really changes. The thick fog of sweat hovering over a crowded dancefloor. Inviting heat and conversations that bounce off dripping walls. The sound holds the same attitude as Kraftwerk yet dances amongst the same groove as Talking Heads. The band lead their listeners into a robotic disco whilst wearing their usual indie-punk outfit, and it undoubtedly works. 

Their favoured focus on improvisation and creative embodiment unfolds in ‘Plant Life’ and ‘Application Apparatus'. There is no holding back in their acid-infused spirals of creative expression. The album is book-ended with Parquet Courts at their familiar finest. 'Pulcinella' brings the pace down to a comforting level, similar to 'Human Performance'. The intro and ending cleverly curate the album, grounding their experimental stories of dancing, capitalism and ways of being in an inviting space. It's a Parquet Courts Deja Vu from an exposed and vulnerable angle. One that is entirely relatable but leaves you wondering—how? 

Sympathy For Life arrives 22 October via Rough Trade Records.

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Photo: Press