Friday, September 26, 2014

Corey On: The Parquet Courts “Sunbathing Animal”

By: Corey C.

At the end of the summer, I saw the new Parquet Courts LP on the wall at the record store. At that moment it occurred to me that the end of the summer was rapidly approaching, and that moved me emotionally, so I thought that was a good enough reason to buy Sunbathing Animal. Plus I liked the artwork. 

It was released back in June and I mostly ignored it because Parquet Courts had been trapped in the indie rock news cycle for way too long and I was getting sick of them and I listened to the new one on my laptop’s stupid tinny speakers and thought it sounded boring.

I don’t like their last album, Light Up Gold, anymore. I realized its main appeal to me was that it sounded like the poor man’s version of Tyvek’s Nothing Fits and I found whenever I wanted to listen to Light Up Gold I just ended up putting on Nothing Fits and being way more satisfied. Plus, Tyvek should be way more popular than PC. Tyvek should be bigger than U2. 

This newest Parquet Courts LP sounds like the dudes decided to ease off the accelerator a little bit and just let shit come to them. I just turned 27 and this idea makes sense to me. Sunbathing Animal reminds me of when Parquet Courts played in Providence at AS220 in March of 2012, and they stretched out their songs into these gnarly, masterful guitar jams. This was quite unlike much of the recordings and bootlegs I’d heard up to that point in time. The live stuff I’d usually was just mashing through the tunes from Light Up Gold, and sounding mostly like the record.

But that night in Providence they seemed less intense, like they were moving in a less suffocating, more open direction. Andrew Savage and Austin Brown’s dueling guitars reminded me of Television and the third Velvet Underground record. They made me wonder what would’ve happened if Ira Kaplan, Glenn Mercer, and Thurston Moore decided to form a super group. I loved it. 

I should’ve seen this record coming but I’m pretty stubborn and awful when bands start to get too much press. I distrust group-think, and I start questioning my own taste and ideals when weird bands start appearing in Rolling Stone. Plus, I am driven to near-homicidal rage when I read boring, lazy, cliché’d music journalism. Grantland’s Steve Hyden, for example, writes the wackest shit on Earth, and probably wrote something so stupid and obvious about PC that I’m not even bothering looking it up cuz it’ll rile me up.  The tipping point for me was Rob Sheffield’s piece that compared Parquet Courts to Pavement and made a big deal about the 90’s. I’d had enough at that point.

I’m glad I ignored my initial reaction and purchased this record. It’s way better than the new music from White Fence, Ty Segall, and King Tuff. I admire those three dudes, but they haven’t made much progress in terms of sonic exploration over the past forever. We get it guys: Black Sabbath, T. Rex, Syd Barrett, and Big Star were great. Surprisingly, I’ll give Parquet Courts have gotten the upper-hand: they could’ve easily cashed in on their notoriety and made a more polished version of Light Up Gold, and write their gigantorock bid version of “Float On.” But instead, they’ve won out, at least with me. I’ve listen to their newest LP more than any other record from 2014.

Most importantly, we’re all blessed with “Instant Disassembly,” the best tune from Sunbathing Animal. I had a terribly difficult putting my love for this song into context, but at the moment, as I write this, I have the most hyperbolic notion to compare it to The Minutemen’s “History Lesson Part II.” I’m certain some will laugh at this earnestness. I guess I’m turning into a fucking corndog.