Despite not having released a Parquet Courts album in over two years, the quartet of Texans turned New Yorkers have kept themselves busy. They collaborated with Danielle Luppi and Karen O on Milano, front-man Andrew Savage released his solo debut under A. Savage, and bassist Sean Yeaton worked with Mark Kozelek on one of the weirder albums of 2017, Yellow Kitchen.
Unsurprisingly, the new record is rather politically charged. The album’s opening track, “Total Football,” speaks of unity as a means to achieve societal goals. “Rebels, teachers/Strikers, sweepers/Better protected/Whenever collected” Savage exclaims early on. The song’s fast, but moves smoothly between Savage’s confrontational lead and the monotonous singing of the full band on the verses. Savage depletes whatever reserve he had in his vocals on the outro, shouting “Collectivism and autonomy are not mutually exclusive/Those who find discomfort in your goals of liberation will be issued no apology.” And to make good on his spirit of unity, Savage ends the song shouting “And fuck Tom Brady.” It’s a sentiment that every American west of Massachusetts can get behind.
“Violence,” the album’s second track, is the first obvious presence of producer Danger Mouse. The album is rhythmically charged and instrumentally broadens beyond their typical guitar rock. “Before the Water Gets Too High” is an equally as weird song for Parquet Courts, consisting only of synths, bass and percussion.
“Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” is where fans of early Parquet Courts will get their fix. The sound and production are reminiscent of Light Up Gold or Sunbathing Animal, but it’s clear the songwriting has matured. Savage questions his own thought process early and often, singing “Why am I searching for reason/I’m in the chaos dimension”. The song is split into two distinct halves, which is likely why it was given two distinct names. The latter half is cleaner and more light spirited. Savage’s focus shifts from his political dissatisfaction onto less terminal frustrations, like the MTA being delayed.
“Back to Earth” is a return to the sound prominent on the former part of the album. Rhythmically driven, Austin Brown takes the lead on the most forgettable track of the album. It comes and goes without harm, but isn’t bound to be a song many put the album on to hear.
The latest Parquet Courts release has the greatest diversity in style of anything they’ve put out before. Wide Awake! serves as Parquet Courts’ most transparent and authentic album to date.