Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Parquet Courts: Sympathy for Life [Rough Trade, 2021]
Although both their tunecraft and their stylistic range expand some, this album means to be the musical embodiment as opposed to apotheosis of pandemic anomie. From "Marathon of Anger"'s BLM surge to "Trullo"'s "living inside a house without a brain," they address this anomie as neither tragedy, probably because their personal contact with the afflicted doesn't include anyone who died, nor outrage--just nagging dismay at the cheap denials of the venal and asinine. Clearly their musical ambit continued to widen a little within their self-imposed guitar-band limits (a fan I know hears some Gang of Four here). After all, what else did they have to do in lockdown? Their most inspired new song details the inner life of a rideshare driver because that's who they're getting to meet these days. And to sum up: "It feels like my brain is the binary code's problem now/And I'm not in the mood to be lonely no more." A-