Parquet Courts

Wide Awake

Dance, dance and be angry

In a world where post-punk has started to mean nothing much – or rather, anything remotely angular with an overall foreboding temperament – Parquet Courts are a constantly evolving anomaly. Amid the chaos and abrasion of their music lies a lyrical astuteness that’s sharpened over time and on Wide Awake, while the band’s oblique self-analysis and 21st-century paranoia still linger on the more leisurely tracks, singer A Savage makes way for bigger anxieties. This album centres more on politics and the band’s grievances with modern America.

‘Before the Water Gets Too High’ protests the world’s lacklustre reaction to the looming climate-change apocalypse, while ‘Total Football’ calls out cultural insensitivity and white fragility (“Have your hurt Caucasian feelings left you so distraught?”). These broader lyrical concerns also introduce new nuances to the music: Danger Mouse’s light-touch production adds a subtle, funkier tinge (especially on the title track) but their guitars are not abandoned. As usual, Parquet Courts demonstrate how discordance can be anthemic, and achieve the deceptively complex aim of making people want to dance while also issuing a call-to-action, in the same way, say, Talking Heads’ marriage of politics and dance music created something very cathartic.

There’s a lot to be said for Parquet Courts’ tendency to veer from flabbergasted angst to something more introspective and thought-provoking. See ‘Uncast Shadow From A Southern Myth’ – a languid, captivating song from their 2014 album Content Nausea – to catch glimpses of something softer – gentler, even. Wide Awake has these moments, too: ‘Death Will Bring Change’ includes vocal contributions from a group of children, adding another layer to Savage’s punk snarl.

Wide Awake still sounds like Parquet Courts, but it’s a far more colourful, warmer and bolder version of the band.

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