Parquet Courts’ gripping brand of lo-fi rock was first introduced to the world – unless you caught one of their early cassette tapes – on effervescent debut Light Up Gold. Released back in January, it was a fiery paean to the hazy-eyed tedium of youth, jangling with enough breakneck punk to burn away even the harshest Winter.
However, as we enter the blustery auburn hinterland between Summer and Autumn, it’s beginning to feel like a lifetime since these Brooklynite agitators first appeared. So in many respects, Tally All The Things That You Broke, seems like a state-of-the-nation address. A record to showcase where they are now, and hint toward where they might be headed.
That said, things don’t get off to a wildly different start, with openers ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’ and ‘Descend (The Way)’ working familiar ground. Both are three minute blasts of punk brio that rattle along with the same exuberance as their debut and serve as a neat reminder of what Parquet Courts are capable of – especially before they shift into more unorthodox territory. Although, ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’ does include the catchiest use of a recorder in modern music since ‘Boy With The Arab Strap’, so that may give you some idea that experimentation is afoot.
The first hint of which truly comes in the form of minimalist rock dirge ‘The More It Works’, which unravels around repetitive chords, a barrage of unwavering metronomic drums and singer Andrew Savage’s sneering pleas of self-actualisation. “Be yourself and not the figure they mould” he barks, a sentiment which at first feels like snide self-help mockery, but slowly becomes heartfelt and – in a way – may be the closest thing we’ve come to a slacker call-to-action.
What follows is the rhythmic discordancy and overlaid non-sequiturs of ‘Fall On Yr Face’. It’s an intriguing, loose and rather brief ramble – that feels more like a half-heard conversation on a sidewalk – and serves as an intriguing stop-gap before the EP’s real gem, ‘He’s Seeing Paths’. A culmination of everything that has come before, this closing track features sampled beats, handclaps, cowbells and a running time of over seven minutes. With Savage drawling, rap-like, about a day spent aimlessly wandering around New York, setting a slack spoken word, storytelling tone which owes as much to Mellow Gold era Beck as it does to the sounds of Malcolm McLaren or The Waitresses.
It’s this pop resonance which draws you in close, only to spit you out again as the song climaxes in looped noise, hyper-modulated vocals and a strangulated post-punk riffs. If that sounds convoluted, it is, yet somehow it works by virtue of sheer audacity. Of course, this won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it closes out the EP leaving you feeling as though the band are heading in a surprisingly fresh direction, especially considering how easily it would have been for them to rest on their laurels. “How do you ignite without turning to ash?” Savage asks on ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’; it would seem this self-assured EP is Parquet Courts’ answer.
- Tom Fenwick