Album Review: Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea

Parquet Courts have undergone some changes and released a new album entitled Content Nausea. With a subtle name change and fewer band members Impact discover whether PQ’s remodel has paid off. 

Parquet Courts have returned! Or have they? This album is essentially made by the same band but with two members missing, for personal reasons. Although the subtle name swap from Parquet Courts to Parkay Quarts is confusing, the album is an almost side project for Parquet Courts members Andrew Savage and Austin Brown, made in a period of just two weeks after the release of this year’s Sunbathing Animal. It is the same name used for the release of their 2013 EP, Tally All The Things That You Broke.

[quote]Content Nausea represents a notable shift in sound from previous work under the Parquet Courts name[/quote]

Content Nausea represents a notable shift in sound from previous work under the Parquet Courts name. Title track ‘Content Nausea’ gallops along breathlessly with Savage spitting out his monologue of disgust at modern-day “content”, “antique ritual all lost to the ceremony of progress,” over rambling guitars. It is essentially the poetic centrepiece and principal theme of the album, the notion of current society’s obsession and over-indulgence in presenting content to the world. ‘Pretty Machines’ deals with this theme too, with lyrics expressing disappointment in our willing obedience to aspects of modern life, “stylish institution/worshipping illusion/things you thought you could destroy.”

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The excitement following ‘Content Nausea’, which is probably closest to the Parquet Courts sound, dies down gradually towards the middle. ‘Slide Machine’ is a country jam, with a plain bluesy riff over a simple drum machine loop, Savage drawling in the chorus “I’m trying, trying, trying to get back to you.” It reflects the casual, laid-back style we find adopted for this album, no-nonsense simple riffs that take it back-to-basics.

[quote]Savage’s monotonous voice pushes the boundaries of being listenable[/quote]

This approach works in some places, but not in others. ‘Psycho Structures’ is edging towards B-side material, with Savage’s monotonous voice pushing the boundaries of being listenable, the song itself feeling incomplete. Parquet Courts like to use short musical interludes in their albums and these usually work, but on this album, excerpts such as ‘No Concept’ for example, fail to add anything significant to the listening experience.

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The fact that Parquet Courts (or Parkay Quarts in this case) themselves dislike social media and stay as far away from it as possible is, by now a well-known fact. It is an interesting debate, are we as a society obsessed with information? Parkay Quarts seem to believe that we are and this album is a product of that frustration. Lyrically, it has a lot more depth than previous work from Parquet Courts and Savage evidently had the opportunity to hone in on his song-writing abilities and project those thoughts and criticisms he has presumably long held onto. For fans that were gripped by the exhilarating 30 minutes of garage-punk, which PQ thrust onto the world back in 2012, then this album may not be as satisfying to your ears. But give it a few more listens; hopefully you will appreciate the wider meaning behind this album.

Tasmin Chowdhary

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