Thursday, January 17, 2019

Certain Songs #1428: Parquet Courts – “One Man, No City” | Medialoper

Album: Human Performance
Year: 2016

One of the cool things about Parquet Courts is that you can hear them mature, album after album, while still not fully deviating from their two-guitar drone-rock power source.

So if 2014’s Sunbathing Animal found them going back to The Velvet Underground for formal inspiration on a song like “Instant Disassembly,” by 2016, the Velvets were more of a jumping-off point, and one of many on songs like “Human Performance,” “Berlin Got Blurry,” and “One Man, No City,” the third straight time my favorite song on a Parquet Courts album was the longest, jammiest song.

“One Man, No City” is almost two separate songs. The first half is all rhythm guitar over a straightforward beat — augmented by a shitload of bongos, because why not invoke the Feelies? — as Andrew Brown sings about his disconnection from where he lives.

No town and no city
No identity and no city
No thoughts, no feelings, and no city
No you just me, I think, and no city
No words I speak and no city
No outside and no city
Nothing at all and no city
No way home and no city
No relief and no city
No sympathy and no city
No understanding and no city
There’s no one else and no city
Yeah I maintain, I still remain
One man solitary and no city

One of the cool things about “One Man, No City” is how the rest of the band continually chime in on “no city,” as a reminder that of course there is a city, a city with loads of other people who are going to get up in your business regardless of whether you acknowledge them or not.

The second half of “One Man, No City” is all psychedelic jam on the order of the guitar solos on “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” almost raga-like at points, but also totally unrelenting as it goes on and on. And while at first, you assume that the vocals are going to come back in, you eventually realize that Andrew Brown as said all he can with his voice, and the rest of his alienation is going to come from his guitar.

“One Man, No City”

“One Man, No City” performed live at Rough Trade, 2016

“One Man, No City” performed live in Paris, 2016

“One Man, No City” performed on KEXP, 2018

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