Thank the lord for small mercies. Human Performance represents the third album for NY rockers Parquet Courts, who in it offer a fine testament to the remnants of relevance that can be found in a solid rock outfit like this. They’re still around, and we can celebrate this very fact with relish.
The band openly steals from the masters – there’s more than a touch of The Jam, early Paul Weller on album highlight ‘Berlin Got Blurry’; significant Velvet Underground flavours infest tracks throughout – and seem to have sprung from nowhere (he said, coming late to the party) when those of us who crave this kind of rock authenticity are simultaneously, and somewhat arrogantly/presumptively seeking that it also have a load more intellect and gravitas.
Human Performance’s closing track, ‘It’s Gonna Happen’ is a true slow burner; as is the simple ballad ‘Steady On My Mind’. The weird, but wonderful opener ‘Dust’ (“Dust is everywhere,” they sing, “Sweep!”). It’s probably a metaphor, but a weird and funny one at that. ‘Two Dead Cops’ mines the wellspring of Ramones-like punk, while ‘Captive of the Sun’ would have you believe the singer is demonically possessed, or something similar.
As mentioned, the highlight is ‘Berlin Got Blurry’, a London-sounding troll through the continent; our hero fucked up and full of yearning – accompanied by a guitar fury out of a spaghetti western, of all things. All that’s missing is the jingle-jangle of spurs.
Seldom do you latch onto something like this and become an instant fan – the ‘go out and buy all their previous stuff’-kind of instant fan. We’ve made an intimate, instantaneous connection, this band and me, and if you ever take anyone’s advice, and you want more from your sonic intake than pre-packaged Top 40 chaff, look no further. Everything’s going to be all right.