Home Read Albums Of The Week: Parquet Courts | Sympathy For Life

Albums Of The Week: Parquet Courts | Sympathy For Life

Influenced by club culture, Primal Scream, Krautrock & psychedelics, the N.Y. crew take their spiky garage-rock and ramshackle post-punk to the dance floor.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On Sympathy For Life, Parquet Courts’ thought-provoking rock is dancing to a new tune. The album finds the Brooklyn band at both their most instinctive and electronic, spinning their bewitching, psychedelic storytelling into fresh territory yet maintaining their unique identity.

Built largely from improvised jams, inspired by New York clubs, Primal Scream and Pink Floyd and produced in league with Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Hot Chip, David Byrne) and John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding, Dry Cleaning), Sympathy For Life was always destined to be dancey. Unlike its globally adored predecessor, 2018’s Wide Awake!, the focus fell on grooves rather than rhythm. “Wide Awake! was a record you could put on at a party,” says co-frontman Austin Brown. “Sympathy For Life is influenced by the party itself. Historically, some amazing rock records have been made from mingling in dance music culture — from Talking Heads to Screamadelica. Our goal was to bring that into our own music. Each of us, in our personal lives, has been going to more dance parties. Or rather, we were pre-pandemic, which is when this record was made.”

Photo by Pooneh Ghana.

“Most of the songs were created by taking long improvisations and moulding them through our own editing,” explains Brown. “The biggest asset we have as artists is the band. After 10 years together, our greatest instrument is each other. The purest expression of Parquet Courts is when we are improvising.” In a very real sense, the band sampled themselves, molding and chopping their rhythmic and melodic jams to create these songs, to manifest something new.

In the video for Walking At A Downtown Pace, directed by acclaimed New York City street photographer Daniel Arnold,“we see New York City from the vantage point of someone busily hurrying through it,” explains co-frontman A Savage. “That’s what life can be like here; a world of constant motion surrounds you while you’re just walking toward where you need to be. There’s a lot of beauty that can be missed, and it wasn’t until the streets were virtually empty that I did miss it. The song was written before all quarantine, but eerily enough the lyrics echo that longing. Now the city is back — and so, it seems, are Parquet Courts.”