I’ve been a big fan of Parquet Courts since they released their major-label debut, Light Up Gold, in 2012.  They consistently channel the raw energy of a punk band like The Stooges, while layering in clever wordplay and historical allegories in a more sophisticated manner.  On their 5th album in as many years, Human Performance, Parquet Courts is out to prove that they are a serious band beyond their punk roots, with careful production and a more cohesive collection of songs.

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Digital versions of the album include an extra opening track, “Already Dead”, which kicks us off with a spoken-word exercise in concentration, as the twangy and dissonant guitar riff breaks down into a swirling but structured full band jam. “Dust” follows as the album’s proper opening track, with ominous lyrics that describe an inescapable pollution over a pounding rhythm track.  The beautiful title track follows next, with poetic verses penned by chief songwriter Andrew Savage contrasting the purifying, reverberated shouts of the chorus.

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The remainder of the album never flags in its consistent approach to melodic but angularly disjointed rock tunes, from the bombastic exhortation of “Paraphrased” to the spaghetti-western guitars of “Berlin Got Blurry”, which also serves as the album’s most radio-friendly tune. Other highlights include the sentimental ballad “Steady on My Mind” and the conga-driven reggae send-up “One Man, No City.” The album concludes with a slow and poignant lounge ditty, “It’s Gonna Happen”, which serves as a nice cool-down from an energetic set of studio tracks from the Brooklyn band. Human Performance is a repeatedly enjoyable listen, and Parquet Courts remains at the cutting edge of modern alternative music.

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