Recorded over the course of a year against a backdrop of personal instability, “Human Performance” massively expands the idea of what a Parquet Courts record can be. They’ve been one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the last 5 years; this is the record that backs all those words up.
“Every day it starts, anxiety,” began the first song on 2014’s “Content Nausea.” Those were essentially the song’s only lyrics, but “Human Performance” picks up where that thought left off, picking apart the anxieties of modern life: “The unavoidable noise of NYC that can be maddening, the kind of the impossible struggle against clutter, whether it’s physical or mental or social,” says singer, guitarist and “Human Performance” producer/mixer Austin Brown.
There has always been the emotional side of Parquet Courts, which has always had an important balance with the more discussed cerebral side, but Savage sees “Human Performance” as a redistribution of weight in that balance. “I began to question my humanity, and if it was always as sincere as I thought, or if it was a performance,” says Savage. “I felt like a sort of malfunctioning apparatus,” he says. “Like a machine programmed to be human showing signs of defect.”
The sonic diversity, time, and existential effort that went into its creation makes “Human Performance” Parquet Courts’ most ambitious record to date. It’s a work of incredible creative vision born of seemingly insurmountable adversity. It is also their most accessible record yet.