Published May 17, 2018At the conclusion of "Total Football," the captivating introduction to Parquet Courts' wondrous and outspoken new album, Wide Awake!, there's a lyrical barrage worth contemplating: "Swapping parts and roles is not acting but rather emancipation from expectation / Collectivism and autonomy are not mutually exclusive / Those who find discomfort in your goals of liberation will be issued no apology / Fuck Tom Brady."
The abrupt shift from empowering manifesto to nihilistic provocation is in keeping with the kind of agit-prop Parquet Courts are up to on this, their seventh proper album. Wide Awake! is a letter-perfect musical contemplation of modern times, where social uprisings are actually affecting positive change. It's urgent and potent music that's thought-provoking and danceable, and whose rage is measured by a pointed optimism. As such, an easy corollary can be made between the album's coy title and being "woke."
The kind of conscious protest music that Parquet Courts have crafted for Wide Awake! is certainly punk-infused in spirit, and it's also refreshingly anchorless rock'n'roll. Produced by Danger Mouse, the band's gritty, open-minded aesthetic is intact, with elements of almost every (good) genre signifier you can name: "Mari Gras Beads" evokes the contemporary country of the Sadies; the title track is a block party funk workout worthy of Talking Heads; and "Violence" has a breakdown with a synth line that Dr. Dre would contemplate copping, evoking the band's recurring interest in hip-hop.
With the kind of cultural reflection and commentary going on here, it's no accident that in the midst of a socio-cultural sea change among young people investing in their own future, Wide Awake! has floated to the surface, and is just waiting to get you through some shit, like a beacon. (Rough Trade)