Parquet Courts is the type of band with a nonchalant reputation that creates music which represents the perfect combination of detachment and simplicity. In their latest release Human Performance, Parquet Courts reminds us what sets their music apart from everyone else. The band’s individualized approach to mundane subjects and Andrew Savage’s occasional sung-spoken lyrics have helped to take their music to the next level. With Human Performance the band has taken risks beyond what anybody would have expected from them two or three years prior.
By far the most intriguing aspect of the album is the sometimes nonsensical lyrics that never shy away from expressing even the eeriest of sentiments. Eccentric lyrics aside, Parquet Courts boldly presents their music in the sincerest way possible with their particular use of instrumentation. In a song like “One Man No City”, the band takes on a much more playful approach with their inclusion of unconventional instruments to their usual sound like conga-drum. The overall progression of the song has this certain spark to it that makes it feel just like another lively Saturday night jam session. However, the titled track “Human Performance” takes on a much more obscure and mellow approach. The song has a more of psychedelic, calming vibe with a very pleasant overarching melody. Surprisingly enough, this is a major contradiction from the actual meaning of the song since Savage is recalling the emotional trauma he has experienced over his loss of love. Only this quartet is daring enough to cover a range of experiences all while experimenting constantly with their articulation of emotion and sound.
As uncanny as this band may be with most their songs, it seems that their influences are apparent and shine throughout most of their songs. When hearing “Steady On My Mind”, it might remind you of the acoustics of a song you might hear off an album from The Doors. It is a mildly, lovely song with a particular arrangement of instrumentation that captivates your interest from the very start. Although the best moment of the album is “Dust”, that is a quite ingenious and infectious song that revolves literally around the most absurd of topics. Even so, amongst their collection of catchy songs you might some of them to be a bit too obscure. For instance, “I Was Just Here” can be okay in its own right but it is a bit too distorted for anyone’s taste. Sometimes Parquet Courts reaches the very extreme of their sound with some of their songs off the album.
As someone who has just heard of Parquet Courts following this release, I can say there is a bit of something in Human Performance for everyone. Savage and company have definitely proved there is so much potential to what is to come for the band in the near future. For now, Human Performance is a delightful collection of work that takes risks in sound and experiments constantly with the all sorts of way to express all kinds of emotion. Definitely worth a listen to for those looking to be surprised.
Key Tracks: “Dust”, “Two Dead Cops”, “Berlin Got Blurry”