ALBUM REVIEW: Parquet Courts - A Sympathy For Life

PARTY: Parquet Courts want to get listeners dancing on their eighth album A Sympathy For Life.

PARTY: Parquet Courts want to get listeners dancing on their eighth album A Sympathy For Life.

GOING by the promotional materials for Parquet Courts' new album A Sympathy For Life, the New York indie band have been basking in the success of 2018's Wide Awake! by hitting the dance clubs.

Indeed Parquet Courts had plenty to celebrate following their seventh album, which enjoyed universal acclaim and frequented most critics' best-of lists due to its inventive combination of post-punk and funk.

A Sympathy For Life has greater emphasis on grooves than its predecessor and Parquet Courts have introduced more electronic instrumentation, but it remains essentially a dance-rock album. The rhythms are organic. They aren't programed.

Late '70s Talking Heads have long been a point of fascination for vocalists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown and David Byrne's influence is all over tracks like the jubilant funk march of Plant Life.

But elsewhere there's a '60s garage rock vibe. Just Shadows' rhythmic strut could have been played by Pete Townsend.

Lead single and album opener Walking At A Downtown Pace could have emerged from late '80s Manchester rather than modern New York and Homo Sapien - the album's most punk moment - carries the swagger of The Clash.

Musically A Sympathy For Life is the soundtrack to a kooky hipster party where everyone's dancing with glasses of pinot noir or IPA in their hand. The melodies are unconventional, but the grooves ensure this is an approachable record.

Parquet Courts - Homo Sapien

But there's a dark under current. The lyrics deal with our reliance and subrogation to modern technology and how we've become more connected, yet more disconnected from reality simultaneously.

"What a time to be alive/ A TV set in the fridge/ A voice that recites the news and/ Leaves all the gloomy bits out," Savage sings on Homo Sapien.

Parquet Courts raised the bar on Wide Awake! and A Sympathy For Life is more than capable of meeting the lofty expectations and grooving along the way.

If there was any debate on whether Parquet Courts could handle the pressure of following a masterpiece, that argument is settled.

4 stars

This story Parquet Courts open dancefloor on A Sympathy For Life first appeared on Newcastle Herald.