Parquet Courts Wide Awake! Rough Trade Records
Over the course of this decade, the consistently sharp New York-based band Parquet Courts have made an impression on the consciousness of a generation. With Wide Awake! – their seventh LP if you count their efforts with tweaked line-ups – they make their mark indelible. It’s their angriest work, and yet it’s their most polished. It’s quite possibly their best.
Thematically, the band reproach modernism and the penchant for individualism and nihilism that comes with it – territory they have tread before – but this time guitarist and principle singer Andrew Savage seems much more comfortable with his anger. Musically, Wide Awake! is more of a departure – partly because the band recruited Danger Mouse as producer, whose influence can be felt in an added sheen and production flourishes, like the growled narration and g-funk squeal on Violence, a blistering attack on gun culture and tacit acceptance of brutality. More generally, the band embrace the dance: drawing out pure funk with the title track and a crooning groove on closer Tenderness.
Austin Brown, who delivers two of his best ever turns as frontman with Mardi Gras Beads and Death Will Bring Change, states that with Wide Awake!, the band aim “to stand in opposition to [hateful culture] — and to the nihilism used to cope with that — with ideas of passion and love”. That they do so with a record so close to boiling point, again switching up their sound, is exactly what makes Parquet Courts such a special band.