"Wide Awake!" is a groundbreaking work, an album about independence and individuality but also about collectivity and communitarianism. Love is at its center. 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 the 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 Courts record, 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.”
For the two primary songwriters, "Wide Awake!" represents the duality of coping and confrontation. “In such a hateful era of culture, we stand in opposition to that — and to the nihilism used to cope with that — with ideas of passion and love," says Brown. For Savage, it comes back to the deceptively complex goal of making people want to dance, powering the body for resistance through a combination of groove, joy, and indignation, “expressing anger constructively but without trying to accommodate anyone.”
This album means a lot to me. It has been a comfort for me since the band was releasing singles from it onto Spotify. The full album was released soon after I moved far away from the US for a time, and I would listen to it often to remind myself of home. Even after returning home, it provides endless comfort. I'm so glad to see so many "Simulation Swarm" fans on here; I love the song's poetry and it's genuinely the most comforting song I've ever heard!
A cozy folksy ride. Every track shines. someonescopine