Parkay Quarts's new release 'Content Nausea' made me feel better about today

(Photo Courtesy of Rough Trade Records) (Photo Courtesy of Rough Trade Records)

For the past two years, blogs from all parts of the indie rock scene spectrum have been echoing the same name: Parquet Courts.

With the breakout release “Light Up Gold” in 2012, Parquet Courts conquered the interests of critics and listeners in a way not seen since The Strokes. It’s hard to take your eyes away from the group of four, as that quartet subverts the general expectations of indie-success-gone-mainstream in relentless ethics and convictions.

This year, the group already released what may be the best punk album of the year with “Sunbathing Animal” — a guitar shredding work of genius that acts as a thesis statement against accepted music structure. Where “Light Up Gold” featured tracks with more silly titles such as “Stoned and Starving,” all tracks on “Sunbathing Animal” serve a very sincere purpose.

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A few weeks ago, it was announced that the band would be releasing a new album, “Content Nausea,” but under a different moniker: Parkay Quarts. The reason for this is likely the change in line-up, as the album features a different bassist and drummer. A preview of the album was released last week on SoundCloud and iTunes and the official release was Tuesday.

“Content Nausea” is the most pointed project from these developing indie rock gods, featuring a number of tracks that have very clear statements in the lyrics. Leading off the album is “Everyday It Starts,” a slow, funky, rhythmically consistent song reflecting on the nature of anxiety and the overwhelming nature of life in the modern digital age. “Everyday It Starts” is probably the closest to previous Parquet work — along with the monotone, pointed lyrics, the guitars are on full display with a winding, anxiety-inducing guitar solo at the end.

From there, the album transitions into the title track. Directly confronting the vast amount of “stuff” thrown in our face all day, every day, “Content Nausea” is an answer to why the anxieties mentioned in the previous track exist: We are losing our human identity with this obsessive, innovative desire to merely create things, the production of which sacrifices meaningful purpose. “Antique ritual / All lost to the ceremony of progress.” Throughout the song there is a steady, fast-pace rhythm that crafts a certain tension to compliment the messaging of the song.

The album goes on to feature a dark, cerebral interlude with “Urban Ease” and transitions into a cover of 13th Floor Elevator’s song “Slide Machine.” In addition to “Slide Machine,” the album features a cover of famous Nancy Sinatra hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'.” To this date, it may be the most sincere cover of the song, which has long been under the domain of Jessica Simpson.

The milestone of the album is “Pretty Machines.” Following an eerily familiar Guns N' Roses progression, the song directly confronts the whole punk rock scene with its lyrics, “Punk songs / I thought they were different / And I thought they could end it / But it was not a deception.” For any die-hard fans out there, this lyric should be enough to understand the direction of the band, and the departure from the more punk “Light Up Gold” in an attempt to accomplish something more.

To finish off the work, the band ventures into Faulknerian southern gothic territory with “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth.” Another slow burn, “Southern Myth” is a ballad full of sorrow and political understanding. The song addresses the culture of the American South, and begs the question of whether a judge would convict a white man for "defending his own home," a particularly relevant lyric, given today's atmosphere.

Again, Parkay Quarts proves that the group can win me over with just about any album or band name they choose to go with. “Content Nausea” is a collection of statements to be taken seriously, and another line of music from one of the most important bands around, as the millennial identity strives to distinguish itself from nostalgia obsession, but doesn’t wish to leave behind what's made for some of the best accomplishments in art.

 

Tell the reporter what your favorite Faulkner tale is at zjennings@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @humanzane

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