With a series of consistently excellent releases, Parquet Courts certainly set themselves a high bar to reach with Human Performance.
As an album, it’s as clever as ever; a brilliant exploration into various mundane realities of existence, incorporating a thought-out and increasingly-mature approach to their music. This is exemplified by opener ‘Dust’, a quirky, minimal track featuring singer/guitarist Andrew Savage’s signature monotone vocals take a hilariously anxious turn in a bizarre chant discussing the prevalence of dust.
Their songwriting is noticeably more ambitious, such as the aggressive, unhinged ‘Paraphrased’ seamlessly transitioning into a euphoric outro, and the tastefully messy guitar solo of ‘One Man No City’. Lyrically this album undoubtedly excels, with tracks like ‘Captive Of The Sun’ almost resembling poetry more than music.
Despite these various advancements, something appears to have been lost along the way. The DIY, punk edge is played down throughout, which perhaps goes some way to explain why a number of the tracks simply are not as instantly memorable or catchy as we have come to expect. ‘Human Performance’ and ‘Berlin Got Messy’ for instance, though hardly bad songs, delve dangerously close to the realm of ‘radio-friendly’, toning down many of the qualities that make Parquet Courts so unique.
The album’s biggest let-down lies in its sombre final track ‘It’s Gonna Happen’, which comes across as too experimental for its own good, and frankly a bit disappointing; compared to the likes of ‘Uncast Shadow’, it doesn’t even remotely stack up.
All this being said, Human Performance is far from a bad album, showing Parquet Courts are moving in the right direction. It is a ‘sort-of’ achievement that they were looking for and is certainly worth a listen, if not many more.