Daniel O'Boyle | Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Punk rock moves fast.
In the last five months, Parquet Courts have released the excellent “Sunbathing Animal,” gone on tour, switched their name to Parkay Quarts for certain tour dates, formed a supergroup with members of PC Worship, switched their name back, released a song under the name Parkay Quartz, went on tour again as Parquet Courts and released a new album, “Content Nausea,” as Parkay Quarts.
In a genre of sub-two-minute songs and sub-30-minute albums, bands have always been known to do a whole lot in a short space of time so as to avoid boredom — but Parquet Courts/Parkay Quarts take it to a new extreme. It makes sense for a band who first broke through with a song titled “Borrowed Time.”
Parquet Courts know that riding the wave that comes with being the new, young and energetic indie punk band on the scene isn’t something that can last long. Soon they’ll either be forgotten or lose the punk rock spirit that made everyone so excited about them. Either way, another band will soon take their place.
With that in mind, why not let that new band be Parquet Court’s new “alter ego,” Parkay Quarts? With “Content Nausea,” Parkay Quarts try to capture the energy of a younger, less experienced band, but you can hear the signs that this band is not a bunch of punk rock newcomers.
Parkay Quarts consciously choose to sound younger. The album is recorded entirely on four-track, the classic staple of “the next big thing” in indie rock, and contains a couple of covers to really give you the feeling that Parkay Quarts are just a group of kids excited to make punk music with zeal. The second of those covers is a reimagining of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking,” which is a fairly obvious choice in the genre of unusual punk cover versions. Parquet Courts are surely aware the idea isn’t wildly original, but they handle it well, and it’s one of the best songs on the album.
The cover works so well because Parkay Quarts approach the song with the punk-rock wisdom of Parquet Courts. The cover carefully treads the balance between punk and the original before a horn section playing over heavy feedback shows that the band can do something that’s unlike all of the other young punk bands out there. Its sounds like a deliberate reminder that the band has something more to give than their youthful energy.
“Pretty Machines,” a highlight of the album, is where the self-awareness is most apparent. They address their fear of being just another band to be forgotten about, with lines like “Punk songs / I thought that they were different.”
Behind the “alter-ego” is the fact that the album still feels a little incomplete on the surface. It may be more of a product of indie rock in the internet age, in which a band can be discovered, discarded and forgotten faster than ever before, but it appears the band might have just felt they needed a new album, rather than having been entirely ready to make one. Although the clever irony makes a statement about the album’s flaws, it’s not enough to make you forget them entirely.