Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
Bred in Texas before packing their things and joining up in Brooklyn, Parquet Courts actually released Light Up Gold through their own imprint in the summer of 2012 but got a wider distribution through indie label What’s Your Rupture? in January 2013 after building up some buzz. And it’s a good thing too. Light Up Gold is the sort of record that doesn’t get made too often anymore and deserves to be heard: a simple, no fuss, plug-in-and-play indie rock album with a sense of humor. Certainly, as these sorts of things do, it brings to mind a multitude of other great acts: Pavement’s Anglophilic slacker-rock is an obvious touchstone, as is early ’90s Sonic Youth and not just because bandleader Andrew Savage (also of Fergus & Geronimo) sing-speaks like Thurston Moore on occasion, though that certainly helps. Moreover, the group call their sound “Americana punk,” and while there’s always a danger in dubbing your own style, it’s not a bad descriptor for Light Up Gold. A rootsy, yet distinctly jittery and witty, streak also runs through many of their songs, like early Gun Club via the Feelies. (“Master Of My Craft” even echoes Gun Club’s “Sex Beat” in parts.)
But name-checking can be a big turnoff for new listeners, who might get the impression that Parquet Courts are a ripoff act, when really Light Up Gold feels surprisingly fresh. “Master Of My Craft” starts things off marvelously with its faux-arrogant boasts and goofy “Forget about it!” asides; “Stoned And Starving” says it all in its title, devolving into an inebriated, droning jam, while “N Dakota” is a charming, lazy, high-by-the-campfire singalong. That Savage fits more clever commentary about the job market in “Careers In Combat”‘s one minute than most bands could do on whole albums (all while employing a catchy, elastic riff) speaks to the strengths of the songwriting here at its peak. Going forward, Parquet Courts would do well to diversify their sound a bit; even at about a half-hour, Light Up Gold drags in places, its sunburned stoner pop blending together in a murk. But by consistently crafting compelling music from familiar elements, Parquet Courts are something that haven’t been seen in a long time—slackers that should be taken seriously.