Words by Russell Carstens

Human Performance is the new album by Parquet Courts, and it’s the first LP to feature songs by every member of the band.

The record opens with the Pavement-esque slacker vibe of “Dust”, featuring a modern indie pop update, courtesy of some 8-bit-type Nintendo sounds. Loopy and melodic, its lyrics will have you wondering what the heck is coming through the window and/or door. The title track comes next, and is a stoner’s love song with beautiful lyrics that bleed sincerity without being sappy. The killer left-field pop of “Outside” sounds like an unreleased gem from the golden era of Guided by Voices. It may the the greatest song Robert Pollard never wrote.

On “I Was Just There,” indie rock meets free jazz with dissonance. It’s a very arty song, perhaps like something off Chairs Missing by Wire. “Paraphrased” is another angular post-punk tune with mystery, attitude and a riff that’s a frustrating delight to try to follow. The gentle, serious and confessional “Steady on my Mind” is awe-inspiring and would fit perfectly on The Velvet Underground. On it, the band shows such graceful restraint in their earnest and admirable performance. “No Man No City” sounds like punks doing their best imitation of the Velvet’s more dissonant work, while “Berlin Got Blurry” plays out like Bob Dylan folk-meets-punk.

It’s easy to see that Parquet Courts are very much writing for themselves — and if anyone else likes it, that’s a bonus. These guys channel such great and classic influences while still being so original – I’d like to call their sound “origami indie punk.” Putting out such energy with clean, non-distorted guitars is impressive as heck, and a feat that not many could pull off. Kudos.

Parquet Courts
‘Human Performance’
Rough Trade
© April 8th, 2016



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