BEST OF 2016

MAGNET’s #18 Album Of 2016: Parquet Courts’ “Human Performance”


Parquet Courts are the nation’s finest indie-rock band by a very old-guard measure. They churn out quality releases at the pace of Hüsker Dü and further a classic dichotomy better than anyone in the 2010s. That is, they’ve grown noisier and more tuneful simultaneously. 2015’s inscrutable Monastic Living EP was a clearinghouse of preemptive anguish over the inevitable sellout cries its beautiful follow-up would endure. Except it didn’t: Human Performance was greeted with the hosannas it deserves, and not one person’s complained about the flute solo on the title track. What the Austinites-turned-Brooklynites achieve here is a sheaf of tunes as great as the wistful “Berlin Got Blurry” and the Velvet Underground-besotted “Steady On My Mind,” interspersed with booby traps like the Beefheart-juiced “I Was Just Here.” But the stylistic breadth on their finest album is unprecedented. Who knew even these great lyricists and droners had power-pop (“Outside”), Rage Against The Machine-style rapping (“Captive Of The Sun”) and country (“Pathos Prairie”) all in them—much less on the same album? Who knew they could perform the humanity of not just the heartbroken title track but the America-broken “Two Dead Cops”?

—Dan Weiss