For quite some time now, Parquet Courts have threatened to be an essential band. Over the course of their first five LPs - forgoing the live album from Third Man Records and a couple of less-than-engaging EPs - the band have been finding their feet and tuning their creative ears towards how they produce critical, awe-inspiring work. Having taken two years since the release of their last album, 'Human Performance', to really hone in on this golden formula, they have re-emerged with 'Wide Awake!', their most intriguing, captivating and well-rounded release to date.
Owing much to the production of Danger Mouse - a phrase not often typed any more, when making a positive statement at least - 'Wide Awake!' finds a perfect balance between the humorous, tongue-in-cheek style that the band have always done well with, and a fuzzy, alternative, distorted sound that gives an edge to what otherwise, could have been a toothless comedy record.
Dealing with many a complex topic from Black Lives Matter ('Violence') and natural disasters that are more commonplace now than ever ('Before The Water Gets Too High') and then immediately ducking into more humorous territory on 'Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience'. This humour is not light and fluffy but, as you would perhaps expect from an art-rock outfit, steeped in a peculiar sense of hopelessness. The initially comic idea of 'Freebird II' quickly puts on a straight face when it becomes about Andrew Savage’s mother and her struggle with depression and drug abuse.
An album that feels, in this moment at least, like a watershed of sorts for the band, 'Wide Awake!' sees them begin to deliver on promises they have been making for half a decade and more. A brutally funny, scuzzy and lacking-in-seriousness affair, it truly is one of the most entertaining New York guitar albums of modern times.
Words: Mike Watkins
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