Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal
Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal- Brooklyn-based four-piece Parquet Courts will release their latest album, cleverly entitled Sunbathing Animal, on June 3. This their third full-length endeavor follows 2012 release Light Up Gold, best described as an underappreciated compilation of gritty stoner jams. With Sunbathing Animals, Parquet Courts display innovation incorporated to the sounds of their first album. Is this a sign of musical maturity? That is yet to be determined. I give to you now Sunbathing Animals: a thirteen-track trip through the mind of lead guitar and vocalist, Andrew Savage.
The first track, ‘Bodies,’ begins with a riff that belongs in a Pinback song, quickly covered by melodic shouts of “Bodies made up of slugs and guts.” The song serves as a brief introduction to Parquet Courts’ sound – a little rough, a little dirty and (perhaps most importantly of all) a little humor. If you listen to Parquet Courts with the intent of taking their every word and musical experiment seriously you’re doing it wrong.‘Black and White’, track two, is featured twice on the album, it reappears in an alternative 7-inch Version as the album’s conclusion. The song itself quickly devolves into a noisy mess of feedback frequently throughout which makes listening to it difficult.
‘Dear Ramona’ is one of the standout tracks of the album. The song is a ballad to Ramona, an emotionally unattainable woman. The lyrics are intriguing, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the whole song. ‘What Color Is Blood’ is a solid garage band-rock track. ‘Vienna II’ is the first song on the album to break away from the grunge rock sound of Parquet Courts, a brief track that evokes sounds similar to The Velvet Underground. Parquet Courts have developed from their Light Up Gold days, both instrumentally and lyrically and the experimentation and maturity is evident when listening to Sunbathing Animals.
‘She’s Rollin’, track seven, begins with a heavy bass giving way to a simple guitar riff. The track is indicative of Parquet Courts style – a gritty quintessentially “new york” rock song which disintegrates into the haphazard playing of instruments, massive amounts of feedback, and specifically in ‘She’s Rollin’ a drawn out harmonica solo. This cacophonous style can be dangerous, in that it has the potential to become irritating very quickly if you’re not careful.
The title track, ‘Sunbathing Animal’, is a punk rock tour de force that evokes a Dead Kennedys atmosphere. Another one of the strongest songs on the album. Immediately following ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is ‘Up All Night’, an instrumental interlude that leads into track ten, ‘Instant Disassembly’. ‘Instant Disassembly’ is hands-down my personal favorite track off the album; heavy on the influence of Lou Reed and it refrains from that raucous instrumentation present in so many of the tracks on the album.
‘Ducking & Dodging’ is track eleven, highly reminiscent of The White Stripes circa Elephant. ‘Raw Milk’, carries a sound similar to that of ‘Instant Disassembly’, with monotone vocals and slower paced, drawn out instrumentals.
The album concludes with ‘Into the Garden’ (which is followed by the 7-inch version of ‘Black and White’). ‘Into the Garden’ consists of two minutes of a spaced out introduction, the sound of spaceships from old horror films accompanied by a simple guitar riff. About a minute before the song ends, the vocals kick in, with only a piano and guitar in the background. “Let me slip into my/Insomniac shoes” sings Savage. The alternative 7-inch version of ‘Black and White’ I find preferable to the originally listed second track, primarily because it does not possess the senseless feedback and random instrumentation that the original version does.
Sunbathing Animal is Parquet Courts’ testament to the music of their hometown, New York City. The album has its high and low points, and in some ways its flaws compliment its strengths so greatly that they need not be fixed. The album as a whole is typical to the sound of the band, so to all the Parquet Courts fans, here’s the album for you! …7/10