Album Review: Human Performance
Brooklyn punk band releases latest original album.
The latest Parquet Courts record plays like a greatest hits album, even though the band’s discography only spans a little over three years.
Since the Brooklyn band’s 2013 freshman album “Light Up Gold.,” the punk band has graced each new year with fresh new albums including 2014’s fast paced “Sunbathing Animal” and 2015’s sublime impassioned “Content Nausea.” With the exception to the band’s Fall 2015 album “Monastic Living,” which sounded like a compilation of instrumental outtakes that were cut from a 45th anniversary Velvet Underground album reissue, “Human Performance” is a major rebound. Following the progression of the Parquet Courts influences and past directions, “Human Performance” is its true senior album taking in everything the band has learned since forming in 2010.
The melancholy sound from “Content Nausea” is heard on such tracks as “Keep It Even,” and “Human Performance.” The echoing bittersweet guitar strokes combined with lead singer Andrew Savage’s monotone voice makes these two tracks along with the rest of the album frankly representative to the ever growing definition of independent music.
When it comes to “Sunbathing Animal” and its influence on this album, “Human Performance” reinstates the same loud and obnoxiously pleasing screaming of Savage’s voice. The same upbeat repetitive riffs and drumbeats can also be heard. Tracks that take vision from Parquet Courts’ sophomore album include “Paraphrased” and “One Man, No City.”
While “Human Performance” includes many tracks that are extensions from past albums, the album also features a song singly inspired by one of the band’s influences. The song “Steady On My Mind” echoes more of the pre-punk band and vastly influential Velvet Underground. Complete with a similar soothing stringy electric guitar and distant echoing drums, all the song is really missing is Nico’s yawning voice. Accompanied with a steady tambourine beat, this track greatly resembles the Velvet Underground’s first album.
Although the Parquet Court’s past two successful albums are definitely present in its new work, “Human Performance” holds many unique features that are original to itself. The mumbling sporadic acoustic driven track “It’s Gonna Happen” is distinct to this album alone. The track “Berlin Got Blurry” is another original from this album. Mixed with a spaghetti western like guitar melody, the song has already been shared on streaming services and multiple listening platforms as a single.
While there is not a single bad track off “Human Performance,” the best part of the album is the ending. After listening to its entirety, there is nowhere for the band to go but in more experimental directions. And although the album cover’s style is similar to Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo,” Parquet Courts have yet to break out of the independent music scene and become a major new band. “Human Performance is a definite must listen for any punk, alternative, or independent rock music fan.
“Human Performance” drops in stores and streaming services April 8. Parquet Courts will perform their latest album at the 9:30 Club on May 12.