Experimental indie rock band Parquet Courts dropped their third and best record Sunbathing Animal on June 4th. The group’s first two releases featured disheveled, jittery punk rock that was raw and riveting, yet lacking a certain maturity to sustain the band's music in the long run. This is not to say that Parquet Courts didn’t have appeal. The New York City-based quartet has this big city punk revival vibe that today’s young people thirst for: the edgy, unfettered rock and roll lifestyle comes through in their big hits like “Stoned and Starving” and “Borrowed Time.” However, with the release of Sunbathing Animal, Parquet Courts transcends into another caliber of musicianship. In their most refined and creative album yet, the Parquet Courts crew truly spreads its wings without trading in their thrillingly uncombed sound. Sunbathing Animal nods stylistically to the past to create a nuanced and dynamic collection of songs, some pushing past the six-minute mark. Clocking in at 6.5 minutes, “She’s Rolling,” the rambling 7th track of the album, offers up a catchy saunter reminiscent of Cake’s “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” that swells and falls with guitar riffs and even a trailing harmonica. Lead man Andrew Savage embeds a variety of philosophical lyrics in the songs of Sunbathing Animal. Using his music as a vehicle to ask listeners the big questions of life, Savage boldly croons, “How is agency built in a life unfulfilled?/ Tanned slow and low in the amines of guilt” in the Rolling Stones-eque track “What Color Is Blood.” Equally provoking are the slower, more sentient tracks on the album like “Dear Ramona” and “Instant Disassembly” that allow the band to loosen their grip on fast-paced punk and channel the smooth, unhurried style of The Velvet Underground.
The classic influences that Parquet Courts embrace in their new music offer a much-needed deviation from the unrelenting punk that had become the band's calling-card without sacrificing their signature panache. Altogether, Sunbathing Animal is both a progressive and retrospective record that is definitely worth your listen. Check it out here: Parquet Courts Sunbathing Animal.