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Parquet Courts - Wide Awake! (Album Review)

Thursday, 24 May 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Ebru Yildiz

On their fifth album, Brooklyn art-punks Parquet Courts have served up a menagerie of dreamy psychedelia, jagged thrash rock, and political balladry.

In terms of arrangement, ‘Wide Awake!’ lands halfway between the Strokes and the Stranglers, with rigid rhythms rubbing up against retro riffs and forays into proselytising. It’s probably the band’s most ambitious work, and should expand their fanbase without sacrificing integrity.

Here we open with Total Football, a track that uses the Dutch soccer philosophy as a metaphor for a more collective, cohesive society.

Essentially, total football dictated that outfield players should be able to play in any position on the pitch, and A. Savage’s lyrics reframe that idea as a way of promoting socialism. “Collectivism and autonomy are not mutually exclusive,” he declares.

Unsure what he means? No matter, as he closes the song with a message for the NFL’s most famous Trump supporter: “And fuck Tom Brady!” Gotcha. It sets the tone for an album that is bolstered by consistently engaging, highly literary lyrics.

Actually, while the sound remains very New York City, the lyrical approach recalls the early work of Welsh indie-rockers Manic Street Preachers. Bars often have a furious, occasionally overheated intellectualism that baffles and delights in equal measure.

Violence is one such song, dealing with the corporate media love-in that drives human aggression in the USA: “Violence is the fruit of unreached understanding that flower from the lips of scoundrels.”

While the glorious lo-fi ballad Freebird II is probably the most emotionally resonant song here, it’s the title track that provides the biggest high. This funk cut arrives like a random pool party on the roof of a grotty club, and breathes an ocean breeze into highly urban lyrical messaging.

It actually brings the production - here handled by Danger Mouse - to the front and centre, and elevates the entire record with deftly handled rhythmic switcheroo. Rock music may be in slow decline, but 'Wide Awake' demonstrates that it is a genre with a few tricks up its sleeves.

Parquet Courts Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat November 03 2018 - DUBLIN Academy 2
Sun November 04 2018 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Mon November 05 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop
Tue November 06 2018 - GLASGOW SWG3 TV Studio
Wed November 07 2018 - LEEDS Church
Sat November 10 2018 - BRISTOL SWX
Mon November 12 2018 - LONDON Roundhouse

Click here to compare & buy Parquet Courts Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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