The first song on this sophomore album, Bodies, coalesces and explodes out with little of the jitters expected of this band who made “post-punk” a gamier proposition when they jutted out of the Brooklyn scene in 2010. But what made them feel like a fresh breath was the way they did not inhabit the usual indie post-punk uniform of ubiquitous thrift keyboards and reliance on layers of pointless fuzz. And, their hyper live show should’ve quelled persistant neo-slaker rock comparisons. In fact, they’ve mostly recalled similarly bent, prickly guitar bands from the latter ’90s like the Country Teasers and Yummy Fur, or more recent rascals like Guinea Worms. Black And White offers further proof that they were a solid garage rock band from the get-go, albeit one who doesn’t remain fruitlessly solid, as they zig-zag in dualing frizzy gits that frizz like they thought they were analog synths on the fritz. (They could use a few more of those duals through this record.)
The knocking and pinging Vienna II and doped walking blues of She’s Rollin make for quirky pauses, but not before jumping right back into kicks like the bashing Sunbathing Animal or Always Back In Town. That kind of textural back’n’forth continues but doesn’t exactly dominate Sunbathing Animal enough to declare this “the ambitious second album.” Mainly, the band locks into grooves and reigns in some of the cackle of earlier releases, while wisely drunk-dancing in the under-four-minute mode. This might be a function of them doing a good bit of touring and press blurb ruminating. They vocally and musically sound droll enough to know not to soak in too much of the quick hype they got over the last couple years. While having sprung from blog rock central, they seem to be ignoring the current ADD habits of indie rock and focusing on honing their sound.
The sad sack anthem, Instant Disassembly, equates classic rock with an old friend. Telling, if not yelling. The stutter-abilly of Duckin and Dodgin keeps the energy up near the end of the record, as the band’s engrained melody diverting starts to wear. But that adrenaline shot has a hefty come down with the last two tunes that could’ve been saved for Bandcamp, or whatever one does with “B-sides” these days.
Overall, there is that second album feeling of trying to stand your ground while figuring a way to move on. As in Always Back In Town, where singer Andrew Savage tells his girlfriend, “I’m always packing my bags…according to you.” Funny, not matter the genre or fame level, the same ailments arrive for every band to work through their system. Skeptical mates, scrutinizing friends and family, and bag packing/unpacking. (A sunbathing animal is kind of how the locals back home picture you while you’re on tour.) It happened to Motley Crue, and it’ll happen to you, collegiate art-punks. Now, what do you do with those conundrums? So far Parquet Courts’ decision to gather the troops and tighten the songwriting ship seems a smart step. Gain a wider fan base, trim the fat off your sound, forward, into the sun.