Parquet Courts have shared the title track off their forthcoming album, Wide Awake! Perhaps the song that most contrasts their previous work, ‘Wide Awake’ brings the band’s mission into full focus. It aims to achieve the deceptively complex goal of making people want to dance, while powering the body for resistance through a combination of groove, joy, and indignation.
The video, directed by Brother Willis and filmed in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, features the band, clad in purple tuxedos, acting, well, wide awake. “I was very intrigued by the band’s idea to spend a few days filming all around New Orleans during Mardi Gras,” says Willis. “Probably should’ve thought twice about it, but we all came out the other side changed people and with a video (or more?) in our collective pocket.” “You’ll never guess what happens next….” adds Parquet Courts’ Austin Brown.
Wide Awake!is a groundbreaking work, an album about independence and individuality but also about collectivity and communitarianism. There’s also a freshness here, a breaking of new territory that’s a testament to the group’s restless spirit.
Part of this could be attributed to the fact that Wide Awake! was produced by Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, but it’s also simply a triumph of songwriting. “The ethos behind every Parquet Courts record is that there needs to be change for the better, and the best way to tackle that is to step out of one’s comfort zone,” guitarist/singer A Savage says of the unlikely pairing. “I personally liked the fact that I was writing a record that indebted to punk and funk, and Brian’s a pop producer who’s made some very polished records. I liked that it didn’t make sense.” It was Danger Mouse, an admirer of Parquet Courts, who originally reached out to them, presenting them with just the opportunity to stretch themselves that they were hoping for.
The songs, written by Savage and Austin Brown but elevated to even greater heights by the dynamic rhythmic propulsion of Max Savage (drums) and Sean Yeaton (bass), are filled with their traditional punk rock passion, as well as a lyrical tenderness. The record reflects a burgeoning confidence in the band’s exploration of new ideas in a hi-fi context. For his part, Savage was determined not to make another ballad heavy record like the band’s 2016 Human Performance.“I needed an outlet for the side of me that feels emotions like joy, rage, silliness and anger,” he says. They looked to play on the duality between rage and glee like the bands Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, and Black Flag. “All those bands make me want to dance and that’s what I want people to do when they hear our record,” adds Savage. For Brown, death and love were the biggest influences. Brown has never been so vulnerable on a Parquet Courtsrecord, and the band, for all their ferocity, has never played so movingly; it’s a prime example of Brown“writing songs I’ve been wanting to write but never had the courage.”