Whether through their five records or front man Andrew Savage’s foray as a solo artist, Parquet Courts have covered pretty much every ground within the indie-rock spectrum. Their sixth album, Wide Awake!, however, sees the Brooklyn quartet wade through new territory thanks to the deft guidance of Brian Burton – a.k.a. Danger Mouse. There is still plenty of garage-rock and punk tones, but there are also more daring and exciting elements.
On Wide Awake! We hear a slight difference in sound, most likely due to the help of Danger Mouse. Stand out tracks are “Death Will Bring Change”, which is an orchestral-pop track complete with a children’s choir. It’s also the most intimate and personal track on the album, as Brown assumes lead vocals and speaks about how the passing on his younger sister, who died tragically in a school bus accident, affected him. The title track “Wide Awake” is a joyous fare that offers much-needed hope and optimism in these dark days. “Almost Had to Star a Fight/In and Out of Patience” is right of the canons of ’60s Brit rock, and It’s a song about fighting and surviving the craziness or, as Savage says, “an unshakeable nightmare”. Front and center the album’s highlight, “Violence” is a fiery, funk-punk number regarding all of the recent shootings in America.
Parquet Courts have never been ones to stay stagnant. They’ve been predictably unpredictable, finding new ways to tell stories about the human condition and the changing world around us. It’s just this time around they have enlisted one of the world’s leading producers, given us songs to rock out and dance to, and written an album that is extremely timely and socially and politically relevant. Wide Awake! is definitely Parquet Courts’ very best, which is saying an awful lot. Wide Awake! is an LP that is among the year’s most outrageous and brilliant. It is also among the year’s most political efforts, which also reveals another side to co-songwriters Savage and Austin Brown.
Andrew Savage (lead vocals/guitar), Austin Brown (guitar), Sean Yeaton (bass), and Andrew’s brother Max Savage (drums).
Wide Awake! is out now via Rough Trade. Stream and purchase it on the usual sites.
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