Last month, the brainy and prolific New York punk quartet Parquet Courts returned with a new single “Almost Hard To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience,” an excerpt from a forthcoming album called Wide Awake!. One of the details that jumped out was that the group had opted to hire Danger Mouse as their producer, which raised some questions about how their particular disposition could mesh with his pop inclinations; for his part, co-frontman Andrew Savage liked the idea of him bringing his new material “indebted to punk and funk” to a collision with Brian Burton’s polished sensibilities. And, a bit of funkiness might’ve made sense, given who they were teaming with.
But that lead single, though great enough to rank as one of our favorite songs of that week, was certainly not funky. Its split personality was that of a punk rager giving way to a twitchy, fried rocker — if anything, it recalled Parquet Courts’ early glories on Light Up Gold.
Well, get ready to find out what funky Parquet Courts sounds like.
Today, the band is back with another preview of Wide Awake! in the form of its title track. There have been slight stylistic modulations throughout Parquet Courts’ career, but perhaps nothing as out of left field as “Wide Awake!” I mean, this song goes there: Its defining feature is a hyperactive, syncopated beat with rubbery bass and chicken-scratch guitar periodically locking in with it. And there are whistles. Throughout, the band all sings together in a way that’s stuck somewhere between punk gang vocals and cathartic funk singalongs. It’s almost a shame that the band is sharing it as an advance single despite its mission statement status — trust me, the first time you’re listening through the album and this comes on, it’s sort of a wild moment!
“Wide Awake!” is also accompanied by a video directed by Brother Willis. It features Parquet Courts, each of them decked out in a purple tuxedo, messing around in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It’s inherently colorful and a pretty fun — after all, “go party in NOLA for Mardi Gras” seems like a pretty decent prompt for a video project. At the end of the clip, each of the band members are introduced by vintage font like an old-school movie opening, before a “To be continued … ” appears on the screen, so maybe there’s a sequel waiting out there or maybe it’s just tongue-in-cheek. We’ll see, but for now you can check out “Wide Awake!” below.
Wide Awake! is out 5/18 via Rough Trade Records. Pre-order it here.