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Parquet Courts’ albums can be distracting, too much haunted by influences (The Modern Lovers, and others you can infer from there), so I end up enjoying them according to how much I respond to the attitude. But I’ve tentatively believed these same albums as evidence of a great live band, however much the rhythm section keeps time as scratchy artifactual noise, and yep, they are great, probably at the height of their powers on this exact day in February 2016. The music moves, which means that it sheds all memory of antecedents so that each sound can be only an expression of itself. “Music matters more than ever,” Andrew Savage sang, reaching back to the band’s 2011 debut, and the line made sense in this new live context: impossible to confirm, but viscerally true at the moment the words happened. The stop-start precision of “Master of My Craft” and “Borrowed Time” and the barreling energy of “Stoned and Starving” mattered, because they dispelled thoughts of anything else.
When their current tour was announced it appeared to be in support of a curio of a release called Monastic Living, but that was revealed as a lark as they followed the EP’s opening statement “No, No, No!” not with instrumental exorcisms but with previews of tuneful new songs from next month’s Human Performance. This might end up the Parquet Courts album I finally love. “Dust,” “One Man No City” and “Berlin Got Blurry” are songs by design, not by accident. The latter is their “A Minor Aversion,” with Savage channeling Chris Bailey as the chorus tumbled down to end on a low note. If this band becomes the 2010s version of The Saints, I promise I won’t complain about precedence.