Jewelcase CD. LP in gatefold sleeve, printed inner bag, download code. An exclusive LP version featuring a bonus one-sided 7” with an unreleased track.
02 Black and White
03 Dear Ramona
04 What Color Is Blood
05 Vienna II
06 Always Back in Town
07 She's Rollin
08 Sunbathing Animal
09 Up All Night
10 Instant Disassembly
11 Duckin and Dodgin
12 Raw Milk
13 Into the Garden
9/10 Mike Staff review, 29 May 2014
Way back in the heady days of February 2013 I awarded a full 10 out of 10 for Parquet Courts’ previous effort ‘Light Up Gold’, and now, a good hundred or so listens later, I still stand by my initial judgement. Now, 15 months and one EP later, they’re back with another. I saw this lot live in Leeds towards the end of last year and signs pointed to a more casual and jammy sound than the pointy New York art punk of ‘Light Up Gold’, and that’s basically what’s happening here.
Where the songs on ‘Light Up Gold’ were blink-and-you’ll-miss-it slices of urgent post-punk, ‘Sunbathing Animal’ opts for a repetitive slacker-indie chug’n’clatter with lazy Malkmus-ish guitars and krautily repetitive grooves. The result is an album which shares all the same sonic signatures whilst producing a very different mood, the songs being given space to breathe and develop and often drifts into drawn out improvised sections, while the vocals often focus on repeated phrases or call-and-response rather than the dizzying stream of words that punctuated each track previously.
It’s solid stuff, and if it wasn’t for the bright-eyed immediacy of its predecessor I think I’d be warming to ‘Sunbathing Animal’ much quicker than I am. I feel like I need to give it another couple of listens to get my head around its strangely meandering ways. Towards the end ‘Sunbathing Animal’ and ‘Ducking & Dodging’ nod towards their more energetic side but if you’re expecting ‘Light Up Gold Mk II’ then you’re in for a surprise.
9/10 Vaughan Customer review, 22nd July 2014
...in which the boys from Brooklyn (via Texas) abandon tunes faintly reminiscent of Richard Hell and the Saints and start channelling Television, Pere Ubu and the Fall. While still sounding like Parquet Courts, of course.
It’s true that the opening number could be an addition to Marquee Moon, except that Tom Verlaine’s whine has been replaced by the yelp of Andrew Savage — or possibly Austin Brown. Anyway, one of them sounds like he’s trying desperately to be heard in a crowded, noisy room (in a Captain Beefheart/David Thomas-ish sort of way). The other one offers an appealingly languid bark.
Also the apparent simplicity of the songs is less obvious the more you listen to them. Ducking and Dodging sounds at first like a straightforward chugging rock number. But (as with the Fall) the lyrics quickly give the lie to that idea. How many chugging rock numbers have lines like “Unalloyed joy I thrice repeat” or “Tanned slow and low in the amines of guilt” (What Color is Blood?) or “The tidal hum of fondness like a spark wave oscillator” (the title track)? Vienna II and Bodies Made Of, with references to killing and viscera, are both poetic and slightly scary. She’s Rolling is hypnotic and strange. All of it is familiar and yet unfamiliar, engaging and then suddenly disarming. The music and vocals seem spare and sometimes casual but, like the lyrics, are confident and intelligent. And it’s all very catchy.
The insidious appeal of Sunbathing Animal, in other words, is that the apparently amateurish cover design, uncomplicated guitar-drums-vocals set-up and clattering punk noise conceal some very complex and unusual material. You discover more as you listen while still nodding appreciatively to the fine tunes. Which means that by the end of the year nine out of ten may be too low a score. We shall see.
So yes, Parquet Courts demonstrate their influences loud and clear but they do something very strange and exciting with them. It’s not who you borrow from it’s how.
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