Is it 1992 again?
(And wouldn't that be freakin' glorious!?!)
Well, yeah, these cats sound like "classic era" Pavement so forgive me if I flash back to the days of the first Clinton campaign as I fire up Sunbathing Animal, the new one from Parquet Courts. Let me pull you out of your time-warp and hip you to the fact that this record drops this week on What's Your Rupture? and it's a beast. It's a clanking, rocking, creation of postpunk noise and furious indie rock.
We've reached a point where a band can pick and choose influences this disparate. Enough time has passed that the mingling of Fugazi and the Dischord template with the brainy Fall-isms of early Pavement seems totally normal now. What would have been an attempted mixing of two very separate indie camps in 1992 now makes perfectly wonderful sense. Parquet Courts look back to the other eras of rock's past, grab a few bits, dash forward, and create a masterpiece. Spin "Black and White" and see what I mean. Spin it and feel the hairs go up on the back of your neck. I have no idea what it's about but it's a monster cut meant to be played loud and often.
This new record is rough but full of heart -- the Jonathan Richman-ish "Dear Ramona" -- in places. There's passion here but not that kind of heart-on-the-sleeve-obviousness of something like U2. This is, instead, music of fury and a sense of urgency. The tunes have to get out -- "Duckin' and Dodgin'" and its Beefheart imperatives -- and they bang and crash around your head and then you hit the button and play each one again. Sunbathing Animal sounds like it's about to fall apart at any second -- "Always Back in Town" like a rough demo thrown down by Pavement as they tried to learn a Big Star song and butcher it at a fever clip -- but it's concise and direct. "Instant Disasembly" hints at things spiraling out and unraveling in the style of Built to Spill but "Into the Garden" adds a shade of color from The Fall's playbook to bring things to a nearly mellow close. It's an odd way to finish off the fairly spiky punk of this album as it's the rough edges of this ...Animal that work so well.
Sunbathing Animal is a remarkable record. It's a distillation of about a dozen other bands you know and love into something that somehow sounds new -- something that bears just traces of that other stuff. If these cats wear their Pavement love in big letters on their sleeves, they are at least taking a shared fondness for Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain as an inspiration and making new shapes out of the clay of that template. Many moments may make you recall Malkmus and the boys but there are just as many that are going to make you think of Rites of Spring, At The Drive In, and even Fugazi in spots.
Parquet Courts are pushing indie rock into a new direction while casting an eye backwards. Other bands would use this style and structure of indie rock to be lazy and let things get sloppy and mediocre. These dudes have instead produced one of 2014's most remarkably listenable albums.
Sunbathing Animal is out now on What's Your Rupture?.