Album Review: Daniele Luppi & Parquet Courts – MILANO
Written by Erik Svensson on November 9, 2017
Artist: Daniele Luppi & Parquet Courts
Label: Columbia Records
Release Date: October 27, 2017
On MILANO, Italian composer Daniele Luppi collaborates with Parquet Courts and on a post-punk album featuring Karen O. of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. MILANO is an impressive follow-up to Rome, Luppi’s 2011 collaboration with Danger Mouse. Luppi’s name isn’t likely to be familiar, but his most famous work is the composition of the Gnarls Barkley song, “Crazy.”
Luppi’s work is almost immediately apparent, as the first track, “Soul and Cigarette,” opens with a small melody that sounds like it’s played on bells.
All of the songs on which Savage sings function as straightforward Parquet Courts songs, with a little extra instrumentation. Luppi’s inclusion of a saxophone following no apparent melody or meter on several of the songs injects a cacophony reminiscent of free form jazz.
This works well with the instrumental work done by Parquet Courts, mixing with their oft-tread post-punk sound to create a unique set of tracks clearly distinguishable from much of the band’s other work.
The band captures an anxious, suspended feeling in the instrumentation as the songs become increasingly frenetic.
The first sign that the album will be more than the slow post-punk heard on Parquet Courts most recent album, Human Performance, is when “Talisa” comes on. Karen O sings a fast and energetic song about model Talisa Soto.
The standout track for Savage as singer is “Memphis Blues Again,” referencing the Bob Dylan song as the narrator denounces a very specific style of art. Savage references the Memphis Group, a design school which also took its name from the song and is known for a minimalist, postmodern style of furniture that is distinct to the 1980s. The school’s name also comes from the Bob Dylan song.
Karen O. and Savage only share vocal duties on on track, “Pretty Prizes,” where they trade back and forth between Savage’s verses and Karen’s chorus. The movement between the two singers works very well, and the restraint in only letting them meet once creates a unique highlight on the album.
MILANO culminates and resolves in its final track, “Cafe Flesh.” The song is entirely instrumental, with all of the dissonant energy of the previous eight tracks finding catharsis in a cacophonous, free form song, where a wandering and energetic saxophone works as the centerpiece.
While he never appears on the record in a traditional sense, Luppi’s arrangements create a cohesive album with a consistent style and motif. The synths, bells, saxophones and descents into dissonance complement an impressive array of instrumentals .
MILANO’s release was a surprise, and the album itself surprises the listener. It drops hints at what is to come next, but finds fun and experimental paths for a post-punk album in 2017.