Parquet Courts are haunted by the words "slacker rock." It's a misfiling they do battle with often, as if what they do is in some way a revival of '90s indie and that portrait of the lackadaisical, floppy-haired stoner in a band. Their latest, Sunbathing Animal, the New York band's third release in less than two years, is a retort: they don't know what it means to slack. Don't mistake their dissent for apathy.
Music criticism is often inelegant and mostly unoriginal. When the press hooks onto a narrative that imparts some quick colour, a trope that even half sticks, we'll lean on it until the band's dead in the ground. Worse still, we're at work in an echo chamber; if, early on, a press release or some tastemaker publication calls your band "a bunch of stoned up goofballs," you can bet that that image will follow you from blog to college newspaper to city daily for most of your career (or until an easier, sexier hook arises). We're romantic about images, and, oftentimes, we're lazy. It takes a significant effort to turn that ship around.
Sunbathing Animal says that more than just fashion or a code traded only within subcultures, fast and snotty guitar music is still a powerful idiom for dissatisfaction. As if that's ever changed.
Their 2012 breakthrough Light Up Gold was a vital document for the ennui of twenty-somethings in this day and age — a story centered on urban living and anxiety and shitty job markets. What's most impressive is that they could fully deliver again on that promise of hope and hopelessness in a trimmer, punchier, more concentrated package. "Dear Ramona" is one of those timeless sort of cuts about longing, told through the lens of a voyeur.
The title track, "Sunbathing Animal," is a white-hot burner about service jobs and the shittiness of wage slavery in general wrapped in a parable about Savage's cat lounging in his living room window. "Instant Disassembly" is the centrepiece — an open heart, bleary eyed plaintive about falling apart emotionally, physically, however really.
Sunbathing Animal says that more than just fashion or a code traded only within subcultures, fast and snotty guitar music is still a powerful idiom for dissatisfaction. As if that's ever changed. Shame on us for doubting.