BY BARRY ST. VITUS
OK. Let’s cut to the chase. Just stop reading right now and go buy this.
With the rocket ride of their last 14 months, and over 100,000 miles of touring in their rearview mirror, propelled with fawning admiration from both fans and critics, these Texas escapees return with their sophomore slab, (following last fall’s EP) and hitting trifection.
Having studied at the grimy, sneakered feet of the punk masters in their salad days, they’ve done them proud by keenly adapting, reflecting and reinterpreting that classic grittiness. While the band despises the over-used ‘slacker-rock’ label so eagerly pinned on them by dozens of critics, one would certainly be remiss in overlooking those influences in their music. You hear unmistakable streaks of deference to, and inspiration from, such classic punkers as the Replacements, Minor Threat, Descendents, Pavement, Sonic Youth, the Modern Lovers and the Velvet Underground, to name but a few. Anyone with a fondness for such bands, can sit back and grin at how they’ve taken all that punkitude and masticated it into their own original music. However, old punkers are a cynical lot, and it will take some arm-twisting to get that generation to lend Parquet Courts a much deserved, respectful ear. Their loss.
Sunbathing Animal offers up lucky-13 tracks and nary a stale song. There’s been some obvious improvements and growth in their songwriting abilities, leading to a few tasty, slower numbers that reflect introspection and deeper observations on life within the lyrics. They still do songs that are whipped into a lather of shredding, insane feedback, but their slower numbers herein are just as satisfying in their mellow laid-backness. The soft preciousness of “Dear Ramona,” that reminds of Jonathan Richman, to the heavy, trance-y slog of the discordant “She’s Rolling,” making due with only two stanzas, or the swaying loveliness of the Malkmus-flavored “Instant Disassembly,” and my favorite cut, also remindful of the Modern Lovers, the stony “Raw Milk,” which segues to “Into The Garden,” with its mildly hallucinogenic intro, and sad recollections.
There are several standout cuts that showcase their brilliance at executing fast and ferocious numbers, exhibit number one being title track, “Sunbathing Animal,” with it’s manic, flow-of -consciousness lyric stream. Many times their lyrics are more impressionistic, than poetic, spotlighting them as perhaps the most insightful punk poets of their generation. Then there’s the hairy-Beatnik, free-form poetry of “What Color Is Blood.” Described as ’hyper-literate,’ their writing and phrasing never fails to grab you.
Another raver is “Duckin And Dodgin,” with its incessant beat and ranting chant. In the punk pounder, “Black And White,’ singer Andrew Savage introspectively searches for self-meaning, asking rhetorically,
“Is the solitude I seek a trap, where I’ve been blindly lead?
Tell me, where then do I go instead?”
“Do I bother to define myself, beyond what they allow?
Have I already forgotten how?”
I can’t recall being so excited by any other bands in recent memory, as I have with these guys. Every new release is like getting that birthday present each year from a wealthy uncle that never lets you down or disappoints. Fingers crossed that the hits just keep on coming.
DOWNLOAD: “Raw Milk”/”Into The Garden,””Black And White,” and “She’s Rollin’ ”