Concert preview: Parquet Courts slows things down with Sunbathing Animal

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From the June 5, 2014 edition

Parquet Courts’ 2012 breakthrough, Light Up Gold, channeled a sense of momentum, and songs tended to move at a breakneck pace, like a speeding taxi navigating its way through crowded city streets. Yet when it came time to work on its follow-up, the New York quartet slowed things to a crawl, conducting three separate recording sessions over the course of a year beginning in 2013.

“After a huge initial session we got the urge to go back in and do more,” said singer/guitarist Andrew Savage, reached by phone for a late May interview. “We thought we were done after each of them, but each time someone said, ‘I’ve got a few more songs’ or ‘I feel like we can do this one better.’”

There was also a growing awareness within the band audiences would be paying attention this time around — “And we had never been in that position before,” Savage said — and the musicians wanted to allow the material the necessary time and space to develop.

“There was a cognizance going into it that we didn’t want to churn out the same old thing,” said the singer, who joins his bandmates for a show at Double Happiness on Friday, June 6. “We didn’t want to do anything alienating either. We wanted to make a solid rock record.”

The songs on Sunbathing Animal, in turn, sometimes reflect this more deliberate pace, particularly the lovingly rumpled “Instant Disassembly,” which slumps along in a daze as though it’s just been roused from a deep slumber.

“There’s lots of Velvet [Underground] in that song, and there’s some Roxy Music and some Neil [Young] in there, maybe,” Savage said. “Those slower songs are important, especially on a record that’s at times very acute and very quick. You don’t want to wear people out, so sometimes you need those long, repetitive ballads.”

Despite the increased spotlight on Parquet Courts, and the sense the band is gearing up to break through in a much bigger way, Savage remains largely nonplussed, and he sounded comfortable with the idea of readjusting to the dark if the public moves on.

“When you’re young, you think of music differently because [it seems like] everyone has a record and everyone is a star. But as you keep doing it, it becomes the thing you do most naturally, and it becomes an important part of self-expression.” said Savage, who was born and raised in Texas by parents he described as “Renaissance people, hustlers, survivors” — traits he’s clearly adopted as his own. “I’ve been doing music for years … [while] working dead-end jobs and doing menial labor, and I don’t mind going back to something like that. You have to do everything on your own terms, and you gotta learn to keep building the world you want.”

Ben Rayner photo