Parquet Courts’ breakout “Stoned and Starving” is my least favorite track from the band’s beaming 2012 debut, Light Up Gold. Not that the fan favorite isn’t a great song (and as a resident of Ridgewood, Queens, I definitely don’t mind the neighborhood shout-out). It just seems that ever since “Stoned and Starving” no journalist, from the tiniest of blogs to the grandest of online zines, has resisted the temptation of slapping the band with a “stoner/slacker” label that just doesn’t seem to fit all that well. Sure, Parquet Courts can be funny at times– their lyrics never fall short of being altogether witty, clever, and sharp– but they’re so much more than a bunch of dudes with the munchies trolling bodegas for Swedish fish. This is a band that has toured the world and back again, several times, throughout the past year. All this time, Parquet Courts have been masterfully honing their craft (ha), writing the shit out of some excellent new material, and the brief but brilliant Tally All The Things That You Broke EP is the result.
“You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now” exploded into our earbuds late this summer, a sprightly, brainy, garage rock twister that hasn’t lost any of its initial zest. The heartbreak-themed tune finds Andrew Savage questioning his beliefs in life, love, and seasickness, all the while displaying a bit of that Texan charm that hasn’t quite left these four Brooklyn transplants. Co-frontman/guitarist Austin Brown takes over for “Descend (The Way)” and “Fall On Yr Face;” while the former hosts another of the band’s excellent, earworm riffs, flying over Max Savage’s stern, steady beats, the latter is a sleepy, sludgy head-banger positively dripping in scuzz.
“Fall On Yr Face” has Brown shouting and yelping in his signature, charismatic style, but nothing tops the pure, unfiltered energy of “The More It Works.” The track’s title is a mantra, repeated in barks by Savage, who pleads for rebellion over a slick punk rock riff and a cushy bassline courtesy of Sean Yeaton. In the end, his words are shrouded in slicing post-punk jangle, more Gang of Four or Wire than chokin’ or tokin’.
On the EP closer, we join Parquet Courts on their most unexpected journey yet: straight-up hip-hop. Yes, that’s correct; the new Parquet Courts record concludes with a rap song. “He’s Seeing Paths” is Tally’s answer to “Stoned and Starving,” except smarter and quirkier, with a ringing telephone background, a funky drum-beat, and vocals delivered in the style of 90s era Beck. The track’s savvy sarcasm proves that Tally All The Things That You Broke isn’t only a bridge between Light Up Gold and the band’s soon-to-be-delivered follow-up, just like Savage and Co. aren’t only a bunch of sharp-toothed slackers. Whether they’re Parquet Courts or “Parkay Quarts,” they’re quite a lot of things, and only a couple of them are stoned and starving.