Parquet Courts: Tally All the Things That You Broke (What’s Your Rupture?)
Brooklyn via Texas indie angst quartet and 2013 critical favorites reinforce their vital presence on the scene with 5 song EP Tally All The Things That You Broke.
Although it took a reissue of last year’s self-released second LP Light Up Gold for Parquet Courts to seep into mainstream consciousness, it seems the band are taking the repeated mantra of their new EP’s best track The More It Works to heart.
If you’ve been following music this year, you’re probably already well aware of Parquet Courts and their angular, agitated tones, and also more than likely bored to death with the music press excitedly hailing them as the new Pavement. Sure, singer Andrew Savage’s voice may be laced with disaffected sarcasm, but at their core, Parquet Courts feels a lot less apathetic and lazy than the 90’s slacker rock staples referenced non-stop in every column inch dedicated to their music. That being said, in other ways, the shoe does sort of fit (they did pen a song called “Stoned And Starving” after all), and if you’re the typical college radio fan who can’t bear having your butt cheeks and your couch cushions part ways for too long, at your busiest while watching Beavis & Butthead reruns, Parquet Courts just might be your favourite new band.
What makes them different? There’s a palpable restlessness in the jittery rhythms of their worming grooves, as if they’d sooner set fire to the couch rather than idly line its crevices with an orange scattering of Cheesy Puff crumbs… There is an uneasy class consciousness and a caustic wit present in the Parquet Courts song catalog reminiscent of the classics of the second wave punk era, putting them in better company alongside bands like Minor Threat or Black Flag.
At times, yes, you can hear the abstract invention of Sonic Youth in the wiry guitars, the poetic and comic sensibilities of Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers in the lyrics, and even the choppy staccato rhythms of early Wire. This savvy combination of busily shifting sounds means that Parquet Courts satisfies the fussier, more avant-garde listener’s palette as well as luring in the casual rock fan with a catchy guitar line or memorable verse.
You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now starts the EP off wisely with a great thrusting vigor of melody. Its strong, driving guitar riff combines with steady pumping drums, handclaps and itchy maraca shakes, all strangely complimented by a jaunty pan flute. Descend (The Way) is more brisk, irregular, and anxious, making use of the loud and soft dynamic. The song simmers at the 1:35 mark, allowing tension to build momentarily before breaking loose in a flurry of revving guitars. The More It Works is the runaway highlight of the EP, a twitchy Gang of Four style white boy funk grind with a continuously chanted mantra as a chorus. Savage’s monotone shouts reach a hysterical fever pitch as if trying to be freed from the sinuous entanglements of the gyrating guitar and bass before finally settling down to an exhausted, submissive murmur.
Fall On Yr Face is barely a minute and a half long, built on shambling crab walking guitars with Christmas sleigh bell style percussion, while He’s Seeing Paths carries the white boy funk feel even further. I can’t help but hear the quirkiness of Beck’s Beercan in the dominant pulsations of bass rhythm, but the ideas here are sparser and more playful, complete with heavy Casio-tone cowbell and ringing phone as sound effect accessories. At over 7 minutes long, it can tend to drag, but it’s still too interesting to be filler, and perhaps it could do with being trimmed by 2 minutes or so, especially considering the sharp conciseness of the EP’s other tracks. If it weren’t the last song, I could see it weighing things down and stifling the overall impact of Tally All the Things That You Broke, but getting weird and experimental is hardly something that should be discouraged.
This EP is more than just an in between albums stopgap; it’s a bold, self assured flexing of prime musical muscle. Let’s hope Parquet Courts continue to be as active and impressive, because the chanted declarations of the chorus in The More It Works (“the more you use it, the more it works”) appears to ring true for the band.
Parquet Courts are on Facebook, but they’re not really into social media and don’t do Twitter.
All words by Carrie Quartly, you can read more of her writing on the site here.