Review snippets taken from Jenn Pelly’s review over at Pitchfork
At its best, Human Performance is Parquet Courts in a mellower, heart-stopping Velvet Underground mode, but it is also at turns upbeat and funny, sensitive and odd. Compositionally, these are the most dynamic Parquet Courts songs yet. You could no longer brush these guys off as mere Modern Lovers rip-offs, as you might have around 2012’s clangoring, whip-smart Light Up Gold. Human Performance presents a more earnest, emotional side of the band. The record’s bare, stunning closer “It’s Gonna Happen,” penned by bassist Sean Yeaton and sung by Savage, recalls the heart-wrenching minimalism of Lou Reed’s starry 2000 ballad “Turning Time Around.” And it’s kind of touching to hear Brown—author of such genius dispatches as “Socrates died in the fucking gutter!”—sing a simple, open love song like the wistful road ballad “Steady On My Mind.”
As ever, the fever-pitch of New York life is alive and fast-walking within these songs—zig-zagging the concrete to blaze past all the downward-gazing multitaskers too busy texting to get on where they’re going. Human Performance captures the humor and horror of New York in 2016, alive with post-Cagean street noise, with a faster-louder Ramonic ideal, with the erratic rhythm of train delays, a bus that never shows up, or the “skull-shaking cadence of the J train rolls.” Something about Parquet Courts’ intense-yet-witty existential energy reminds me of the legendary NYC tour-guide-cum-philosopher Speed Levitch (immortalized in ’90s doc The Cruise), who has long approached New York as if the city itself were an epic poem.