New York rock quartet successfully navigates another left turn

“Savage is my name because savage is how I feel,” shouts Parquet Courts' Andrew Savage on “Violence,” the second track on the band's 2018 album, Wide Awake! The song comes off like an expectorated essay on modern-day American carnage, punctuated by funky synth and bass lines and a chanted refrain: “Violence is daily life.”

Savage's finger-pointing is refreshing partly because it goes in two directions. He rails against “men who clean up streets named after those who fought for erasing the lives they now claim to protect,” but he also pauses to reflect: “Allow me to ponder the role I play in this pornographic spectacle of black death.”

Aside from the Beach Boys-evoking “Mardi Gras Beads,” much of Parquet Courts' fifth album relies on the primal chanting found on “Violence” more than traditional singing, but it's not a tossed-off punk rock record. Produced by Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, Wide Awake! retains the band's gritty rawness while communicating with a greater sonic clarity.

Recently, Parquet Courts released a cover of Neil Young's “We R in Control” from his oft-maligned 1982 electronic album, Trans. But it's a suitable choice for a band that revels in unpredictability, and Parquet Courts is the rare band that pulls off whatever it attempts. (Safe bet)