Album of the Week: Wide Awake!

Welcome back to Album of the Week where we let you know about a project that’s really something worth listening to! This week we’re going to take a look at Parquet Courts’ fourth album, released in 2018, Wide Awake!

The Brooklyn based rock outfit was formed in 2010 and for a large chunk of the decade played throughout the New York area with a blend of fun, catchy and surprisingly deep and literate music. I am a personal fan of all of their records but their 2018 album, Wide Awake!, to me represents the perfect culmination of their style and attitude.

A notable detail of the production of the album, released through the Rough Trade record label, was that it was produced by Danger Mouse. Some people may recognize this producer from his work with several other notable  artists, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, and A$AP Rocky. The production on this project obviously feels masterfully done and is definitely a step up from the band’s earlier works. It’s amazing how much a noted producer can do to make an album sound as punchy, dreamy, and cohesive as Wide Awake! does.

Both the songwriting and performance on this project is also absolutely top notch. It makes sense that a band that has been gigging for so long would be so tight on the music but regardless it’s done so well. Their punkier tunes, like “Almost Had To Start a Fight/ In and Out of Patience”, and “Normalization” deliver a well polished experience that feels distinctly punkier and aggressive while still feeling sharp and undeniably clean. The band also shows quite a lot of diversity in their sound, with songs like “Mardis Gras Beads” almost feeling like a late Beach Boys album in terms of dreaminess.

The stellar sounds on this project are paired with some of my favorite songwriting in recent punk music. Every track feels so clear and intentional with its message, while presenting it in a way that feels earnest and interesting to the listener. A recurring theme of this album is something of prevailing anxiety about the consequences of the modern world and the decisions we have to make about how we organize ourselves within this current modern space.From songs “Violence”, which is a wonderful tirade on the desensitization in violence in the news media and general public, and my personal favorite “Total Football”. This opening track does a perfect job of discussing individualism being pitted against the ideas of collectivism for a society.

These tracks are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this album has to offer. As much as I try, I won’t be able to do this album proper justice. So my suggestion is to turn on this album, run a mile, and do some modern political reading if you still have time to get the full experience. I promise you will not be disappointed (this is not an enforced requirement, just listening does 90% of the work).

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