ALBUM REVIEW: Parquet Courts “Sunbathing Animal”

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Following their highly acclaimed 2012 album Light Up Gold, Brooklyn-based punks Parquet Courts delve into something more disembodied and fragmented in Sunbathing Animal, out June 3 via What’s Your Rupture? and Mom + Pop Music. Their sound is essentially the same – still plenty of the lively guitars and driving drums that drew the mass of listeners that religiously follow them now – but there’s something more exact about it, more complete. The 13-track endeavor was inspired by the band’s time on the road and that feeling of displacement and transit is reflected in the lyrics and sound.

The opening track, “Bodies,” is a great introduction to the album as it plays on themes of separation and introspection. As lead vocalist Andrew Savage sings of “bodies made of slugs and guts,” the accompanying guitar follows in spirals and the repetition of phrases and rhythms creates a nearly out-of-body experience where the mental becomes separated from the physical. This effect is repeated in “What Color Is Blood” and “Instant Disassembly” where a dissociation of body and spirit makes the listening experience that more meaningful.

Sunbathing Animal is an album that can be listened to – and should be listened to – from first track to last in order to get its full impact. Shorter, one-minute tracks like “Vienna II” and “Up All Night” act as transitional interludes that really capture the wandering sense of being on tour with the band, feeling their moments of freedom and captivity, and the not-much-longer “Always Back In Town” hinges on ebullient transience. That central theme is visited and revisited in different ways, and at every pace: “Dear Ramona” unwinds slowly for moments of contemplative limbo, “She’s Rollin” stretches into a dissonant harmonica jam by its end, “Raw Milk” captures stumbling, early morning disorientation, and the sneering “Ducking & Dodging” as well as the intense energy and searing drive of the title track are tailored for rowdy live iterations, built to anchor yet many more tour dates in DIY spaces and moldy basements of house shows. As a whole, the album is a strong sophomore follow-up to their early success, their sound more precise and their exploration of different themes relevant especially in times like these, when it often seems as if everything is always in transition.

Watch an animal sunbathing in the video below (+ tour dates):

June 2, 2014 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s w/ Radioactivity
June 3, 2014 Dallas, TX – Club Dada w/ Swearin’, Radioactivity
June 4, 2014 Memphis, TN – The Hi-Tone w/ Protomartyr, True Sons of Thunder
June 6, 2014 Columbus, OH – Double Happiness
June 7, 2014 Detroit, MI – PJ’s Lager House w/ Tyvek, Protomartyr
June 8, 2014 Toronto, ON – Horsehoe Tavern w/ Tyvek, Protomartyr
June 9, 2014 Montreal, QC – Il Motore w/ Tyvek, Protomartyr
June 10, 2014 Boston, MA – TT the Bears w/ Protomartyr
June 11, 2014 Brooklyn, NY – Sugarhill Supper Club w/ Protomartyr, Future Punx, Xerox
August 2, 2014 Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
August 3, 2014 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon

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