Parquet Courts - Human Performance
Critic Score
Based on 33 reviews
2016 Ratings: #44 / 926
Year End Rank: #28
User Score
Based on 497 ratings
2016 Ratings: #120
Liked by 8 people
April 8, 2016 / Release Date
LP / Format
Rough Trade / Label
Indie Rock / Genres
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A.V. Club

What’s most prominent on Human Performance ... is how its undercurrent of anxiety and paranoia—forged by the arrangements and relayed via the lyrics of Andrew Savage and Austin Brown—precipitates an indifference that becomes even more engaging thanks to its sophistication.

Entertainment Weekly

Nearly every cut on Human Performance ... finds Parquet Courts exploring fresh sounds and reaching new heights in the process.

No Ripcord

Cut for cut, this is a triumph of melody and intelligence, with hooks that aren't cute and noise that doesn't dampen introspection, cosmic and prosaic at the same time. Parquet Courts have conquered rock 'n' roll's biggest hurdle: to move forward while staying true to themselves.


It is an album that claws gently at your ennui, playing on anxiety and stress and the claustrophobia of mental hoarding. Yet it’s far from a pleasureless experience, and therein lies the acrid charm of Parquet Courts’ growing accessibility.

The 405
Parquet Courts' brand of taut, nervy guitar music is the perfect vehicle for these stories, and they expertly build and release tension in their guitar interplay; obsessively measured fuzz and feedback adds to the muddiness of minds depicted.

You'd be hard pressed to find a contemporary rock band honoring the classic Rough Trade legacy as well as Parquet Courts, in both sound and spirit, while doing something audacious and new.

Consequence of Sound

Parquet Courts may have just released their most realized, independent, and articulate album yet.

Pretty Much Amazing

Their less-than-zero aesthetic is as crisp as ever and they again show impeccable taste.

For all their obvious musical ability, the band’s real skill here is blending so many unexpected elements into a coherent whole that is at once adventurous and accessible, even if—or maybe because—you have to hustle a little to keep up.
The Skinny

Human Performance might have sacrificed the band's rickety immediacy, but they compensate with wise, grass-stalk chewing authority and grubby, plentiful hooks.

Slant Magazine

These are tight, economical pop songs actually worthy of Pavement comparisons in terms of not just sound, but melody.


A tightrope walk between impulse and laser-point precision, ‘Human Performance’ is Parquet Courts at their most knotted.

Loud and Quiet

‘Human Performance’ is the sound of a band hurtling back in the opposite direction to deliver melodic alt-rock packed with droll observations.


Sceptics might see Human Performance's well-rounded, poppier sensibilities as the band softening themselves — on the contrary, they're just coming into their own.

Under The Radar

There are no radical departures from past albums, but this is the most crisply recorded and varied Parquet Courts record yet. Musical ideas hinted at previously appear here in full color.


Human Performance shows that the band is just as vital and alive when it dials the intensity (way) down, cleans up some of the messy parts, and generally grows up in all the right ways.


It’s easy to simply pore over Savage’s frantic wordplay – which peaks when evaluating kebab-wrapping techniques on ‘Berlin Got Blurry’ – but the music is equally brilliant.


What makes Human Performance a narrowly great record is that it bucks narrative. It’s not their most sensitive record or politically astute or least dissonant but all of these things — their most convincing performance as humans to date.

The Guardian

If guitar music is condemned to skulk in the margins for the time being, it might as well do so sounding as spiky and agitated as this.

Drowned in Sound

While their intent has occasionally blurred in the past, Human Performance sees Parquet Courts deliver ideas with laser accuracy.

Rolling Stone

Human Performance is the first album you could describe as your typical Parquet Courts record – it gathers their best tricks in one place, along with new ones you wouldn't see coming.

Crack Magazine

Despite Parquet Courts’ high jinks, Human Performance is in fact the sound of a band growing older.

Northern Transmissions

Though the content is thematically similar, never before have they hit such a strong stride in writing pop-songs.


The bulk of the songs are strong, well-written and full of energetic guitar-based performances.

Tiny Mix Tapes

Though Human Performance is built on a lusher palette than we’re used to from Parquet Courts, it’s their least outlandish vision of punk yet, following the rabbit hole of their last few releases to a strange, troubled, but rewarding new habitat of 21st-century uncertainty.

The Needle Drop
Brooklyn's Parquet Courts delivers a rough, wordy art punk record with some pretty smart and visceral songs.
The Line of Best Fit

What the other releases do so well is that they either hit the spot hard or deliberately miss for effect, but this time round the result seems to be somewhere in between.

More introspective and calmer than their subsequent release, Human Performance sees Parquet Courts establishing their foot on their identity through claustrophobic paranoia that's as funky and fresh as always from them.

Whilst not a huge change in sound for the band, Human Performance is probably the best album from these guys since Light Up Gold.

Best Track: Human Performance
Worst Track: I Was Just Here
I really love the laid-back, but still somewhat energetic, atmosphere that this album carries. Also, one of the most solid Parquet Courts releases, full of catchy songs.

FAV TRACKS: Already Dead, Human Performance, Steady On My Mind, One Man No City, Berlin Got Blurry, Keep it Even, It's Gonna Happen
behind what i think is one of the best album covers of this year (this is seriously cool in my opinion), parquet courts releases some of the better rock music of this year. there is a very laid back vibe to this record, tons of the lyrics have themes of carelessness and sense of place, which is something that has been present in many albums throughout this year. many of the lyrics and vocals impressed me, but i was underwhelmed by the instrumentation. the speed of the instruments didnt seem ... read more
Human Performance is one of the most solid records Parquet Courts have ever made. It's filled with failed relationship related lyrics and thoughts about being worthless and addicted to the loved one. It has some faster tracks (such as Outside, Berlin Got Blurry and Human Performance) and some slow jams like Steady On My Mind and Keep It Even.
The main ideas are the feelings of a character whose relationship with a girl ended and he can't just stop thinking about her. However, the songs are ... read more
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Added on: February 4, 2016