Albums, Music, The Revue — November 30, 2015 at 7:45 am

Parquet Courts – “Monastic Living”

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Since Parquet Courts arrived on the indie scene in 2010, they’ve had a love-hate relationship with social media. In the early going, they avoided it like the plague, but more recently have been somewhat active. There is a Twitter account under their name that may or may not be operated by the band. They do post on Tumblr occasionally, but they’ve long been absent from Facebook. Their Instagram account hasn’t been used in over a year.

Even on their past albums, Parquet Courts have railed against the influence of social media and society’s obsession with it. Gone are the days of people achieving success by merit and the long, intimate interactions among people. The irony, of course, is that social media has helped Parquet Courts’ popularity and their songs have tended to be short bursts, often less than two minutes in duration.

And maybe it is this realization that drives their latest album, Monastic Living. Maybe it is this dichotomy that has influenced them to create an album that will go recognized as one of the most unexpected records of the year. Unlike Light Up Gold, Sunbathing Animal, or Constant Nausea (which was released under the moniker Parkay Quarts), Monastic Living is far from being a post-punk or garage-rock album. Instead, it is largely instrumental. The lone exception is the opening track, “No No No”, which might be one of the band’s most melodic tracks yet rings of Parquet Courts’ familiar refrain of the importance of human interaction. After that, though, the band goes – possibly ironically or not – digital.

The remaining eight tracks meander through songs that could best be described as experimental rock. There are traces of the Montreal avant-garde scene (think Suuns and Ought), such as on “Monastic Living I” and “Elegy of Colonial Suffering” – sans lyrics of course. The quartet also perform math rock on “Monastic Living II” and “Poverty and Obedience”, and this aspect might be the most surprising on the album.

The extended finale, “Prison Conversion”, which is an extremely clever title for an album littered with religious concepts, is the most successful of the experimental rock tracks. It builds slowly before the pace and intensity picks up. The song is filled with distortion and a deep bass line, yet it somehow works.

If you’re expecting a trademark Parquet Courts’ record, you’ll be largely disappointed. If you’re willing to open your mind to hear something that is challenging, complex, and even confusing, then Monastic Living is worth a listen. It’s difficult to say whether this album is downright brilliant or a complete letdown, but it definitely is bizarre and unique. Never would I have considered Parquet Courts taking a “digital” approach, but maybe for them this is the other side of the unexplored sonic landscapes. It is for them their monastic living.

Monastic Living is out now via Rough Trade. Get it at the label’s store and on iTunes (US | CAN | UK) and Amazon (US | CAN (vinyl only)| UK).

Website – parquetcourts.wordpress.com
Facebook – Parquet Courts (community page)
Twitter – @ParquetCourts1
Instagram – @parquetcourts

parquet_courts_monastic_living

Parquet Courts Tour

DEC 2nd Ground Control Touring 15th Anniversary Gala
@ Webster Hall

New York City, NY

DEC 3rd @ The Flywheel
Easthampton, MA
w/ Pill, Kindling, Longings

DEC 4th @ The Middle East
Cambridge, MA
w/ Pill

DEC 5th @ 3S Artspace
Portsmouth, NH
w/ Pill, Psychic Blood

DEC 6th @ Higher Ground
Burlington, VT
w/ Pill, Joey Pizza Slice

DEC 7th @ Le Cercle
Quebec City, QC
w/ Pill

DEC 8th @ La Sala Rossa
Montreal, QC
w/ Pill

DEC 9th @ Lee’s Palace
Toronto, ON
w/ Pill

DEC 11th @ Warsaw
Brooklyn, NY
w/ Pill, BBoys

FEB 15 @ Turner Hall
Milwaukee, WI

FEB 16 @ Thalia Hall
Chicago, IL

FEB 18th @ Triple Rock Social Club
Minneapolis, MN

FEB 19th @ The Commonwealth
Calgary, AB

FEB 20th @ Rickshaw Theatre
Vancouver, BC

FEB 23rd @ Neumo’s
Seattle, WA

FEB 24th @ Wonder Ballroom
Portland, OR

FEB 26 @ The New Parish
Oakland, CA

MAR 12 @ Marfa Myths
Marfa, TX

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