Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Parkay Quarts [extended]

  • Light Up Gold [What's Your Rupture?, 2013] A-
  • Tally All the Things That You Broke [What's Your Rupture? EP, 2013] A-
  • Sunbathing Animal [What's Your Rupture?, 2014] A-
  • Content Nausea [What's Your Rupture? EP, 2014] A-
  • Human Performance [Rough Trade, 2016] A
  • Milano [30th, 2017] A-
  • Wide Awaaaaake! [Rough Trade, 2018] A
  • Sympathy for Life [Rough Trade, 2021] A-

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Parquet Courts: Light Up Gold [What's Your Rupture?, 2013]
The hook on these 14 two-minute songs isn't tunes except occasionally. It's whichever of the two guys who "sing, if you must call it that" comes packing the most anxiety--that is, the one who kicks off "Donuts Only" by whining "Like a red state's Baptist fervor/Like a small town's unsolved murder" like his meds are not quite perfect. Texan refugees whose idea of a vacation is North Dakota, they're stoned and starving in Ridgewood, Queens, where they ended up after concluding that "There are no more summer lifeguard jobs/There are no more art museums to guard." So they're pretty much resigned to giving this drone-rock thing a shot. A-

Tally All the Things That You Broke [What's Your Rupture? EP, 2013]
Maybe some classify our finest current punk band as garage because they're the first punk band anyone can recall that's also significantly a groove band--in the "Whippin' Post" rather than "Super Bad" sense, natch. Tuneful-toothache opener aside, the standouts on this unnecessarily unheralded EP are certainly the five-minute "The More It Works," where I'm just going to assume "it" refers to his penis, and the seven-and-a-half-minute "He's Seeing Paths," where they bring out the cowbell like the damn Chambers Brothers as they follow a bicycle rider around the five boroughs. (Well, maybe the Fall.) A-

Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal [What's Your Rupture?, 2014]
Or maybe they are a garage band--one with dreams. Certainly Andrew Savage has succeeded at composing songs with distinct hooks at differing lengths and tempos and constructing an album that reveals more goodies the more you play it. I've stopped wondering about the real-world coordinates of the mamacita whose offer of refuge suffuses the unforgettable seven-minute slow one that gets special play on the back cover, and the title cut is just too fast to be about a cat. But two different songs dis two different women without making Savage sound like a dick. And "Black and White" gets the frenzied compulsion to run out of your skin just right. (Not tight enough for the Buzzcocks.) A-

Content Nausea [What's Your Rupture? EP, 2014]
The deal seems to be that the latest garage-punk heroes spell their name like the fancy flooring when they put in time on the long-player and the lower-priced spread when they don't. And though I've liked them all so far, I've preferred the quickies. This one includes songs about insomnia, catastrophe, and a shrink I'm glad they can afford, Roky Erikson and Nancy Sinatra covers, and no bitching about romantic dysfunction. The best lyric forswears social media, the worst waxes Dylanesque. Strong from the start, it takes off midway through with the ear-catching "Pretty Machines." All in all: the world looks kind of like hell, and punk won't save you from it, but meanwhile . . . A-

Parquet Courts: Human Performance [Rough Trade, 2016]
Figure the all-jam, all-slack Monastic Living for a metal-machine stumble that sets up this crazy-feeling leap forward--not just driven drones, spare tunes, and catchy sprechgesang, but an album where their art dreams for their straight talk come true. "One Man, No City" really does say something about urban alienation, "Captive of the Sun" about megapolitan avantism, "Steady on My Mind" about long love, "Berlin Got Blurry" about missing someone, "Two Dead Cops" about police brutality, "Paraphrased," I mean it, about signification and its disconnects. Uncle Lou would be so proud. Our little garage punks are growing up. A

Daniele Luppi & Parquet Courts: Milano [30th, 2017]
Assume Italian-born Hollywood movie-music pro Luppi had melodic input on this half-hour concept bagatelle's five A. Savage vocals as well as the four Karen O's, and assume too that a shot at Milanhattan cosmopolitanism was what lured Luppi in. It's still Savage's record--from "Functionalism's a bore, modernism's a chore" to "Why does he look at me like that/Must be a Christian Democrat," the clever Savage more than the socially aware Savage. How exactly that Beretta sneaks in toward the end I have not a clue. A-

Parquet Courts: Wide Awaaaaake! [Rough Trade, 2018]
Thank producer Danger Mouse for the heat, clarity, and structural detail that intensify an album where nine tracks add keyboard to the kind of punky g-g-b-d tunes these Texans rode into New York on only five years ago. Their aural gestalt will never be on a Stones-Ramones level, but those are the comparisons--in an appalling year when too many g-g-b-d types have chosen to gaze inward, I doubt we'll hear a greater album. Not only is it sinewy and flexible--that's a funk groove propelling a title song that celebrates the woke meme it also looks askance at--but the lyrics are sharper than ever. As usual, A. Savage is the political philosopher, Austin Brown the "Get love when you find it / It's the only thing we have to fight with" guy. So where Savage valorizes the square term "collective" in two different songs, the Brown who lost a sister in a car crash insists that the nearness of death changes everything else you think you know. Prescriptive or expressive, visceral or oppositional, neither guy ever quits. A

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-