PARQUET COURTS have been making excellent albums for some time now, but Wide Awake! is the one where they finally step out from under the shadows of Pavement and The Velvet Underground.
The Brooklyn band's garage-rock and punk fuelled indie sound is still present and correct, but feels at its tightest and most focused, particularly on urgent opener 'Total Football', but it's often the most uncharacteristic numbers on this album where Parquet Courts shine best.
Showing they really are stretching their wings, there is infectious, uptempo, disco/funk ('Wide Awake!' ), psychedelic indie ('Mardi Gras Beads' ), and New Wave/Goth/chanson ('Back To Earth' ). The concise, poignant, 'Freebird 2', has a keyboard sound and melody which vaguely recalls the Lynyrd Skynyrd epic, while the children's choir is unexpected on 'Death Will Bring Change', but all the more effective for that.
This is also the Courts' most directly political work. The anxious, funk/feedback scarred 'Violence' captures contemporary angst: "Radio wakes me up with the words 'Suspected Gunman'", while the understated 'Before The Water Gets Too High' is possibly the most powerful song here, pondering both the plight of refugees ("images of drenched survival, without hope but soaked with pain" ) and climate change ("What's it worth, all the money we made? Flowing oddly in a new born lake, far above financial centres, city's sink" ).
The jaunty piano and choppy guitar of the catchy 'Tenderness' ends this diverse album on an upbeat, danceable, note - yet Wide Awake! never sounds unfocussed, held together by Andrew Savager's authoritative vocals, and Parquet Courts' sense of anger, energy, and undeniable cool.