Published Nov 25, 2015On the jittery, abrasive opening track to Monastic Living, Parquet Courts proclaim that they don't want to be essayists, they don't want to tacked on to anyone's cause: "No, no, no! We're just a band," they sing. These lyrics stand alone on an otherwise entirely instrumental EP, and more than anything, serve as a mission statement: Parquet Courts are taking a vow of silence.
For those familiar with the New York art-punks, Monastic Living's calculated experimentation shouldn't come as a surprise. On last year's Content Nausea, the band questioned the racket of modern life, and in many ways, Monastic Living is an answer to those questions. What better way to achieve purity of spirit than to silence yourself altogether? It's a noble pursuit, and a testament to frontman Andrew Savage's commitment to his craft.
Where Monastic Living thrives, though, is in its sense of unimpeded curiosity. The EP investigates a variety of sonic territories; tracks like the droning "Prison Conversion" and " Monastic Living I." feel like extended jams, while "Frog Pond Plop" exists purely in the realm of static distortion. For all its diversity though, the record isn't an ideal entry point for the uninitiated — that would be 2012's spirited Light Up Gold.
Monastic Living provides meditative, probing insight into the ever-evolving attitude of Parquet Courts. Ultimately, the project serves best as a check-in, letting fans know where the band's heads are at after a year on the road. And although both fans and newcomers alike would benefit from a more substantial, cohesive project, it's enough for now. After all, they're just a band. (Rough Trade)