Daniele Luppi / Parquet Courts

Milano

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AllMusic Review by

While working on a batch of songs about the alternative lifestyle scene of Milan in the 1980s, where and when he came of age, Italian composer and arranger Daniele Luppi decided he needed a working band to play his compositions and help write the words. He landed on Parquet Courts, thinking that they embodied the seedy glamour and arty angles of the era. It proved to be an inspired choice, as the band does a fine job bringing the writer's songs and vision to life on Milano. Luppi also had the bright idea to bring Karen O on board to add her vocals (and lyrics) to many of the nine songs. The team fits together perfectly, with the Courts' rambling attack alternately loping and charging through the songs, the band's Andrew Savage laconically drawling out the typically dense and witty lyrics like a bored denizen of Milan's underground, and Karen O delivering some of her typically inspired vocals. She brings the snappy "Talisa" to life with some snarkily sneering vocals, struts like a haughty socialite on the skids on the disco-funky "Flush," yelps and snaps like bubblegum on "The Golden Ones," and duets smartly with Savage on the alternate-universe pop single "Pretty Prizes." It sounds good enough that one might wish she joined Parquet Courts full-time. It also makes one think that they should ask Luppi to produce their next album. As producer, he captures their shambling nature simply and powerfully; as arranger, he adds subtle touches to the songs that give them some depth. The bells on "Soul and Cigarette" and "Mount Napoleon," the wailing sax on the latter song, the accordion on "Memphis Blues Again," the buzzy synths on "Lanza"; these are lightly applied additions to the band's sound that really open things up and give the songs some breathing room. The band even proves to be adept at backing some wildly oscillating jazz soloing on the instrumental "Café Flesh," which closes the album in a decadent whirl of sound. The combination of talents involved works in all of their favor, and the result is a short, snappy modern art-punk album that is a worthy addition to each act's already strong catalog.

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