Highly considered as one of the most acclaimed bands of the last few years, there appears to be a lot of excitement, intrigue and anticipation surrounding the release of Parquet Courts’ latest studio effort, Human Performance. I wouldn’t be lying if I’ve expressed to you that it wasn’t until recently that I finally came across this enticing group. So for me to approach and to decipher this record with a clear mind, and an appetite influenced by sheer curiosity — this is by far an interesting challenge for me to peruse.
Right from the get-go, Parquet Courts sheds some light on one word throughout Human Performance — and how it confronts us from time-to-time. Whether we hesitantly expect it to alter our thriving motivation to live, or we just simply go on with our own personal business, anxiety can invade the brightest of minds and strike a lingering sense of uncertainty into our thoughts. And the genuine nightmare of it all: is the fact that in some instances, anxiety is likely to be an uncontrollable dilemma for some more than others.
This idea could be potentially addressed through the album’s leading track, “Dust.” As “Dust” opens the record with a spastic and quirky guitar strum pattern that is reminiscent of any later Sonic Youth number, “Dust is everywhere,” is a repetitive line that reiterates the infectious nature of cluttering anxieties that could potentially creep up on you throughout the day.
Like dust building up in a grimy space throughout extended periods of time, lingering pressures will eventually invoke rapid woes when push comes to shove. Whether your nerves catch-up to you while you’re anticipating to take on an important job interview, over-caffeinate on your third cup of coffee in a span of six hours, or go on your first legitimate date in almost three months, the feeling is truly unpredictable, yet expected at the same time.
For me, “I Was Just Here,” was a personal stand-alone song that completely struck a resonating chord when I listened to it for the first time. This tune conveys a relatable undertone that immediately represses unsettling moments of déjà vu that often takes control of my weekly routine.
As my heart races in unison with the opening notes of this song, I can’t help back reflect back on several recent instances where I’ve rhetorically asked, “Wasn’t I already here before?” or muttered to myself, “I felt like I’ve never left this exact spot,” while I was slaving away at work. Whether you find yourself stuck in a predictable stranglehold of monotony bonded by repetitive work schedules without any break in routine, “I Was Just Here,” pierces through your drained psyche, like the un-welcoming sound of a blaring alarm clock on a Monday morning.
Fighting through the rigorous boredom of stale habits, and a depriving mindset that gives you a reason to believe that your life is crumbling at the seams, there is always a calm after the storm regardless. In this case, as the record transitions back and forth with flustered sounds, and tranquil harmonies — “Steady On My Mind” and “It’s Gonna Happen” are prime, soft-spoken examples that also act as a beacon of light breaking through the clouds. Despite the abrasive vibe that Parquet Courts instills through its strident patterns, we can find comfort in knowing that there’s always room to grow, and an opportunity to regroup after encountering stress, and anxiety in between the days.
While I’m not here to entirely convey that listening to Human Performance will make you feel anxious in any sort of way — however, Parquet Courts definitely succeeded in creating a stellar release that distinctly reminds listeners that anxiety is an unpredictable entity that can strike you down when you least expect it. Even when we’re on the top of our game, overwhelming moments of high-stress situations can abruptly keep us constantly on the edge of our seats.
If you’re looking to find complete peace within the chaos of your hectic days, listen to Human Performance below. I can assure you that the relatable arrangement of this album will help you unwind, and put any anxious thoughts at ease.
Parquet Courts’ fifth studio effort, Human Performance is now available on Rough Trade.