Over five albums, Parquet Courts’ unique combination of propulsive post-punk and ennui-drenched vibes has propelled them to indie-rock darling status, something they’d no doubt balk at. It would’ve been so easy for the notoriously contrary foursome to have rebelled, released a barely-coherent series of tracks in a ploy to shed any positive reputation they’d earned thus far. Parquet Courts aren’t ones to take the easy route, though. Instead, they teamed up with pop maestro Danger Mouse to make their best record yet.
From beautifully cacophonous opener ‘Total Football’ to the piano melancholy of ‘Tenderness’ twelve tracks later, ‘Wide Awake!’ doesn’t dip one bit. This is Parquet Courts - but better. ’Violence’ has Andrew going full meta on nominative determinism (“Savage is my name because Savage is how I feel when the radio wakes me up with the words ‘suspected gunman’ / my name is a warning for for the acts you are about to witness”), ‘NYC Observation’ brims with urgency, and ‘Normalization’ swaps between vocal and guitar in call-and-response lines deftly. Then there’s the impeccable disco banger of a title track, all gang vocals and funky bass, like if James Murphy were to produce a boyband. ‘Mardi Gras Beads’ introduces a new, lush, level of Beach Boys-style melody. Then there’s ‘Death Will Bring Change’, on which at one point a childrens’ choir and hospital beeps briefly compete for space.
It’s brighter, bolder - at points even warmer (the ‘70s organ sounds on ‘Violence’ especially, contrasting with Andrew’s vocal diatribes to cinematic effect). For a band who’ve riffed on sounding inwardly jaded so impeccably for so long, ‘Wide Awake!’ is a gut-punch of an immediate classic. If it wasn’t their own record, it’d have even Parquet Courts themselves grinning ear-to-ear.