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Parquet Courts is a band that’s hard to categorize. Widely and notoriously labeled as “slacker rock.” Parquet Courts have drawn comparison to artists ranging from Pavement to Neil Young. ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is the follow-up to last year’s ‘Light Up Gold,’ the band’s debut wide-release album and breakthrough.

Parquet Courts’s aesthetic was clear from the start, and ‘Sunbathing Animal’ establishes their bare-bones take on post-punk. The songs, for the most part, are simply arranged and without frills. That’s part of the appeal, and I see how some could interpret it as a slacker aesthetic, but Parquet Courts is no lackadaisical venture. It takes a lot of work to make something seem as effortless as ‘Sunbathing Animal.’

The album opens with “Bodies Made Of”, a punchy, rhythmic track that does a complete 180 in the middle and morphs into something off-kilter and bizarre. It’s a perfect lead into ‘Sunbathing Animal,’ an album that forays into both classic alternative and neo-psychedelia. “Black and White” is a perfect example of the former, wherein vocalist Andrew Savage drawls over a simple riff with just enough feedback to merit it noise; “Vienna II” epitomizes the later with a heavy dose of weirdness- “How’d he die/ We broke his neck/ Raised it to the power of ten,” Savage sings in his characteristic nonchalance.

Parquet Court’s structural simplicity can get a bit boring and repetitive, as on “Always Back in Town,” but the album as a whole remains interesting and listenable. Tracks such as carefree instrumental “Up All Night” and punkish “Ducking & Dodging” keep the album from going stale.

I’m pleased overall with the way Parquet Courts have grown into themselves, venturing into experimentation while keeping a solid brand. ‘Sunbathing Animal’ doesn’t have the wow factor of ‘Light Up Gold’ (which is completely understandable, as the debut was notable for its never-heard-stuff-like-this-before quality) but it is a very good album nonetheless, though I do miss ‘Light Up Gold”s tongue-in-cheek lyrics. All in all, ‘Sunbathing Animal’ is a well-made album that I’ll definitely be spinning lots.

Julia’s rating: 8/10

Stream the album here.

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