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Monday, 16 June 2014 06:30

Album review: Parquet Courts fall short on 'Sunbathing Animal'

Album review: Parquet Courts fall short on 'Sunbathing Animal'
Written by Alex Cunningham
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Parquet Courts
"Sunbathing Animal"
Mom + Pop

Parquet Courts rose to prominence in 2013 on the strength of their excellent second LP, "Light Up Gold," garnering critical acclaim and Pavement comparisons ad nauseam. On their follow up, "Sunbathing Animal," Parquet Courts deliver an underwhelming album that fails to match the energy of its predecessor.

"Animal" opens with "Bodies Made Of," a meandering mid-tempo cut that proves to be an unfortunate indicator of things to come. At its halfway point, "Bodies" delves into listless guitar noodling that acts as an awkward, overlong conclusion. This lack of self-editing plagues the entirety of the album.

On "Light Up Gold," Parquet Courts deftly employed droning guitars and repetitive grooves within the context of well-written songs. The brevity of its tracks allowed songs to conclude before any of these elements felt stale. On "Animals," these elements make up the majority of several songs. The two longest tracks of the album (and of the Parquet Courts songbook as a whole), "She's Rolling" and "Instant Disassembly," do little to justify their sprawling lengths. "She's Rolling" concludes with a patience-testing harmonica solo that runs longer than more than half the tracks found on "Light Up Gold." While a remarkably stronger track than "Rolling," "Instant Disassembly" would still benefit from excising a verse or two. With its repeated final lines and references to classic rock and AM radio, "Disassembly" reaches for an anthemic quality that ultimately feels forced.

"Sunbathing Animal" and "Ducking and Dodging" prove to be the finest moments of the album. Both tracks rely on mostly one chord verses but do so effectively within the context of energetic art-punk tempos rather than mid-tempo slogs. Both tracks display a ferocity in stark contrast with the bored, detached vocal delivery of Adam Savage and Austin Brown found elsewhere. On "Ducking and Dodging," Savage takes unlikely inspiration from the struggle of 20th century Russian composers against the KGB. "Dodging" reminds the listener of Savage's brilliant ability as a minimalist songwriter and impenetrable wordsmith, rendering his lazier moments on "Animal" all the more disappointing.

Despite its bright spots, "Sunbathing Animal" ultimately comes up short. "Animal" is the sound of a talented band expanding their sound without finding their footing. Hopefully "Sunbathing Animal" only marks an awkward adolescence before a return to fully-realized material.

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