In 2013, less than a year after releasing breakthrough album Light Up Gold, Parquet Courts returned with Tally All the Things That You Broke, a EP with the alternate spelling Parkay Quarts on the cover. Only months after this year’s more expansive follow-up, Sunbathing Animal, Andrew Savage and Austin Brown are back again, sans bandmates, under their homophonic alias, and here, as in their main band, they hammer away smartly at contemporary neuroses until the scraps become dinged-up treasures.
Recorded to four-track tape machine, the 12-cut, 35-minute set explores various byways of the band’s scruffy aesthetic, with saxophone by Jackie-O Motherfucker’s Jef Brown and fiddle from Eaters’ Bob Jones. Aside from a few brief but mood-setting instrumentals, the originals traverse cracked Americana (“Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth”), anxiety-ridden art-punk (“Everyday It Starts”) and ominous coldwave (“Psycho Structures”). Nancy Sinatra cover “These Boots” sneers and squalls toward an unfaithful lover, while a take on 13th Floor Elevators‘ jittery “Slide Machine” settles into a casual lope. On the galloping, buttonholing title track, Savage frantically critiques news-feed culture, decrying a smartphone as “one more thing you have to buy.”
The collection’s best song, though, might be “Pretty Machines,” a “Coffee and TV”-jaunty look back into the pit where Savage admits, “I’ve been tricked into buying quite a number of things.” Parquet Courts (OK, Parkay Quarts) can’t help feeding the feeds any more than anyone else; a new collaborative track with cityfolk PC Worship, as PCPC, is already streaming, though it can’t yet be bought. For listeners who want something they “could live with over the winter,” as Savage and Brown have described their ambitions for Content Nausea, this record is a potent off-brand dose of discontent.