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Parquet Courts - Human Performance LP

Parquet Courts - Human Performance LP

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Their third album, Human Performance, establishes Parquet Courts as simply one of the best rock bands active in the world right now, no qualifiers needed. Not “in Brooklyn,” not “something-something millennial,” not “art-rock this” or “slacker indie that” - but a brilliant, accomplished rock band that have established themselves as deserving a role in the historical legacy of the genre alongside the likes of The Velvet Underground, REM, Sonic Youth, and (okay, fine) Pavement. The LP – their masterpiece - brings together the tunefulness, wit, and guitar wizardry that earned them a crush of critical praise & excitable fans right out of the gate, with a deeply human sense of drive, of yearning, and of wisdom earned. At times nearly overwhelming in its emotional density, at others astonishing with sheer sonic deftness, Human Performance is a rare achievement: breathtaking and brilliant.

Our take: First of all, the TL;DR version: I've liked Parquet Courts a lot since pretty much when they started and I think that Human Performance is, by leaps and bounds, their best album. I'm pretty sure that Human Performance easily wins the award for "most time spent on the Sorry State shop turntable" over the course of the last month. Now, indulge me while I pontificate about this band. Parquet Courts seem, in many ways, like a band out of time. Listening to them reminds me of listening to bands in the 90s, not so much because they sound like they're from the 90s (though it would be silly to acknowledge that they don't sound more than a little bit like Pavement sometimes), but rather because they seem to aspire to the kind of cultural relevance that rock music hasn't really had since the 90s. Parquet Courts feels like a band that matters in a way that virtually no other bands do these days. Most music nowadays, while interesting intellectually, is so mired in retro culture and so steeped in history that it can feel like it's not really of today's world, except in the strange roundabout sense that things are of our current world precisely because they're usually far more connected to some other time or place than where we are currently. Parquet Courts manage to sound like now without doing anything cheesy like writing songs about apps or selfies or whatever. Maybe it's just because they're ambitious, and each on each new release they seem determined to push the conversation of indie rock forward, to do new things that have never been done before, even if those things are quite subtle. I mean, it's not like Parquet Courts are anti-retro... I'm pretty sure the center label design on this LP is lifted directly from the first Cabaret Voltaire LP (and maybe other early Rough Trade releases as well). However, it feels new, it feels now. Maybe it's because they're just really fucking good songwriters. I mean, most bands try to innovate in ways that are essentially quantifiable--to get a more distorted guitar sound, to be the fastest, etc., but Parquet Courts just keep writing better and better songs. I mean, like a lot better, and their old ones were already really, really good. I loved "Light Up Gold," but it's hard to imagine "Berlin Got Blurry" appearing on that LP or even being played by that band. In a word, the greatness of Parquet Courts is magical, and that magic has never been more apparent than it is on Human Performance.