Parquet Courts are either messing with us, or have just released the worst thing in their career.
Parquet Courts, the Indie Rock band hailing from New York City, have been trolling the musical community for about a year now since releasing their last album under the moniker ‘Parkay Quarts’. Before that, the band released two excellent albums, Light Up Gold and Sunbathing Animal, and one exciting EP, Tally All The Things That You Broke. But now it appears the band are trolling the music industry in a new way, with their new EP, Monastic Living.
Monastic Living sees the band abandon their successful straight-talking formula for something slightly more experimental. The riffs and chunky basslines are all but abandoned on this release, which focuses instead on… let’s say rhythms and repetitive sounds. Truth be told, Monastic Living is a bitter disappointment in comparison to Parquet Court’s earlier work. There transition into the experimental genre is sloppy and boring; with Parquet Courts’ slacker rock sensibility failing to successfully transfer to this new direction.
Opener ‘No, No, No!’ is the most familiar sounding track, with the short bursts of noise and grunts from front man Andrew Savage also make it the pretty enjoyable. It’s largely downhill from there. ‘Monastic Living I’ is six and a half minutes of the same ¾ beat with some sloppy distorted guitar slapped over the top, there’s little variation aside from that. ‘Elegy of Colonial Suffering’ is a fast paced, distorted guitar strum. ‘Frog Pond Plop’ is again, just some distorted guitar.
‘Vow of Silence’ is slightly more interesting; with an electronic beat and some heavenly synthesizers and that distorted guitar making another unfortunate appearance. Eventually the pace picks up into some sort of 21st century tribal ritual. ‘Monastic Living II’ is probably the best track on the album, with an interesting electronic beat and popping sound effects. The dirty bass effects are most welcome as well, adding some depth to an unfortunately 2D album. This is exhibited again in the 45 second ‘Alms of the Poor’, while ‘Poverty and Obedience’ is a short yet unexcitedly loud track.
Finally, closer ‘Prison Conversion’ is a sloppy eight minute number that lacks in structure and bores the listener. Had this been a regular Parquet Courts track, it might have been salvaged, but unfortunately the experimental nature of this album takes it down a dreary route. And this is the problem with this album, it feels like it’s trying too hard to be ‘edgy’. You could try and expand the sounds the band are making by making comparisons to say, The Velvet Underground, but there is no real depth to strumming a guitar with little deviation for 83 seconds. Either that, or Parquet Courts have pulled off a Lou Reed and are purposely attempting to mess with the audience.
Either way, Monastic Living is not worth your time. People who enjoyed Metal Machine Music should give this a listen, everyone else shouldn’t bother.
On the plus side, it’s nice to see Parquet Courts are willing to expand their musical horizons, I just wish they’d take it seriously.