Reviews: Parquet Courts' Human Performance, Death Grips' Interview 2016

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Parquet Courts’ Human Performance

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by Brendan Frank

Parquet Courts’ conversational style of songwriting has always suited them. They can be goofy; they can be serious; they can be brilliant. You can almost imagine Austin Brown and Andrew Savage writing solely about what they see outside the windows of their apartments. Or inside. “Dust is everywhere/Sweep!” they cry on the charmingly mundane opener of their latest LP and fifth in six years, Human Performance. They’re average guys with above-average observational skills in the mad maze that is modern day New York City. Nothing is catalogued until it’s flipped on its head and deconstructed. Their less-than-zero aesthetic is as crisp as ever and they again show impeccable taste, tipping their hats to usual suspects likes of Pavement (“Steady On My Mind”), Wire (“I Was Just Here”), and Talking Heads (“Berlin Got Blurry”). This clarity leads to a clarity of purpose, a revealed fixation on the speed, urgency and passivity with which we live lives populated with plastic faces. “Faster than hope flies cold through my veins/Faster than cruelty could drain it out...Faster than love turns itself to rage/Faster than I tend to forget,” goes a key lyric on “Pathos Prairie”. “Captive of the Sun” is pretty much a manifesto on alienation. These old school spaghetti westerns are both cosmopolitan and contemporary, suited for an era where we're as close together—and as disconnected—as we’ve ever been. B PLUS

Death Grips’ Interview 2016

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by Luke Fowler

It’s only been a year since Death Grips released The Powers That B, but it should be no surprise to their fans that they’re alrPAReady back in action. As part of the predictably elaborate guessing game leading up to their next LP Bottomless Pit, they’ve put out an instrumental EP in the vein of 2015’s Fashion Week. I personally found that release a bit bland, but that was because it was almost certainly written with MC Ride’s vocals in mind, and without his raw energy, it felt incomplete. Interview 2016, on the other hand, was clearly conceived as a fully instrumental recording from the start. So unlike Fashion Week, it has no excuse for being this boring.

I mean, what else do you call a 23-minute EP with about five minutes of remotely interesting material? Half these tracks see the band mindlessly messing around with flanging effects that were already done to death on The Money Store, and the other half (with some overlap) take 10 seconds of promising samples and do absolutely nothing with them (looking at you, “Track 3”). Tracks 2 and 4 are the only ones that come close to redeeming themselves; the former, though overlong, has something akin to an actual song structure, and the latter features an impressive pounding synth line. Otherwise, there’s very little of substance to talk about here.

But here’s the thing: Death Grips have always been more about their musical footprint than their musical output. Interview 2016 isn’t very good, but Death Grips won’t be losing (or gaining) any fans because of it. Here’s to Bottomless Pit anyway. Stay noided. C MINUS