added: 10 Jun 2014
// release date: 2 Jun 2014 // label: What's Your Rupture?
reviewer: Steve Warnham
If 2012’s Light Up Gold was Parquet Courts ‘Stoned and Starving’ then new release Sunbathing Animal paints the Brooklyn four-piece as stoned and well-fed.
A steadier pace fills much of the 13 track record, in which a lethargic rolling beat reoccurs on a few tracks such as ‘She’s Rollin’, ‘Instant Disassembly’ and ‘Raw Milk’.
Sounding more like the stoner record that Light Up Gold was lauded to be, it lacks some of the immediate clout of its predecessor, demanding a handful of listens before appreciation builds. While Light Up Gold offered up abrupt hard-hitting gems such as ‘Stoned and Starving’, ‘Borrowed Time’ and ‘Master Of My Craft’, Sunbathing Animal is a slower process, offering the listener more of a mesmerised sway than a raucous head-bang.
Light Up Gold also has a stronger grasp of the typically Brooklyn-ite sound of Parquet Courts, as they became synonymous with arguably the best underground rock scene going. In personal experience, when celebrating booking a flight to NYC earlier this year, I passed over The Stroke’s Is This It in my record collection to spin Light Up Gold. That’s not to say that it’s a better album (few are), just that it offered a modern update on the New York City I’d had in mind. Sunbathing Animal however, shies away from Brooklyn and gives the impression that Parquet Courts wrote this on the road.
Parquet Courts are obviously not in search of the limelight, nor are they looking to pounce on their rise in popularity both sides of the Atlantic. Sunbathing Animal is more evocative of Andrew Savage & Co. kicking back with a beer and celebrating their success their own way, producing an equally DIY-tinged collection of jams that they clearly had fun putting together.
There are undoubtedly large elements of the disorderly groove that Parquet Courts fans spent much of 2012 and 2013 enjoying, and refreshingly the band’s punk attitude which challenges fans to listen on their own terms, is stronger than ever.
Those in search of a more like-for-like follow-up to Light Up Gold will enjoy ‘Bodies’, ‘Black and White’ and the track ‘Ducking & Dodging’, which is powerfully built on a muted riff, relying on Savage’s rallying cry over sharp bursts of guitar - reminiscent of an early Jack White track. Title track and Record Store Day 2014 release ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is also a particularly fast-paced burst in between the more laid-back tracks that surround it.
All in all, Sunbathing Animal is a brave and worthy follow up to Light Up Gold – just don’t expect it to knock you off your feet.
Stand out songs: ‘Black and White’, ‘Ducking and Dodging’ and ‘Sunbathing Animal’
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