'Isn't it quite like a profession of faith? This is self-righteous, preachy mortality shouted by a pure fool. What better way to declare a vow of silence? Refusal of sin, retreat in solitude. Hermitude."
So go the liner notes, titled "A Profession of Ignorance," for Parquet Courts' Monastic Living. The first song is an extension of that — a punk-rock poem that asks not to be taken seriously, and that ends with Andrew Savage wondering, "Or perhaps silence is purity of spirit?"
And from there on out, he doesn't say another word. Monastic Living keeps a vow of silence, at least when it comes to spoken or sung words. Instead, heavily distorted and frequently screechy guitars and synthesizers do the talking. It often sounds like a transmission from deep space.
As promised, it's a big departure from Parquet Courts' previous work. It was always clear that this was a smart band with an avant bent, and it was clear, too, that it was time to shake things up. Monastic Living does so with disorienting force. The band leaned hard into its experimental tendencies and without ever speaking asks, "Is this different enough for you?" This record isn't just lacking a radio-friendly single, it's flatout resisting it. Much of what's on this album are not songs as we normally think of them. It requires a straight-through listen every time. Under a thick layer of grit, these songs are tight and intricate until they collapse into noise, like a system so overworked that its collapse is a forgone conclusion.
"I don't want to be cited, tacked onto your cause," Savage sings. With this largely instrumental album, he could get what he wants. But it's not likely. Monastic Living intends to make a statement, and in succeeding, it becomes easy to tack onto an artistic cause — to express yourself however you need to, audience be damned.
Ashley Dean, HeyReverb.com