Hearing Parquet Courts’ frontman Andrew Savage describe the title of their first non-cassette release, “like this unnamed feeling, or sensation that we all have — it’s the thing everyone is looking for,” might make a weary indie rock listener brace for yet another album of sanguine twee. Chirpy indie pop, dreamy shoegaze-turned-electronic and forays into acoustic guitar are all good in the correct dosage, but some of us are pining for the new rock revolution of the early 2000s when musicians nostalgically mimicked the heydays of garage and punk. In a pleasant contrast to the music of the day, Light Up Gold instead delivers whip-sharp rock: a revival of post-punk revival replete with tight guitar-laden tracks and tongue-in-cheek stoner youth musings.
Written with an attention-deficit-addled population in mind, the individual songs are short; the 14-track LP clocks in at barely 33 minutes. This positions the New York (via Houston, mostly) musicians in the vein of other prolific slacker bands like Pavement or Guided by Voices — in fact, the soaring vocals and wordplay trickery on “Picture of Health” could easily fit in Robert Pollard’s ever-expanding repertoire, although with considerably more hi-fi polish. Fittingly, the longest track — “Stoned and Starving,” topping just over 5 minutes — is a distracted reflection on a quest for munchies. The tunes aren’t terribly complex structurally to a net benefit: songs propelled by dual-layered vocals, simple chords, prominent catchy melodies and driving beats.
Parquet Courts’ spastic nature spills over to the lyrical content. In the opening track, they jump from drawled idle proclamations (including the opening track’s repeated eye-rolled dismissive declarations of “Forget about it”) to clever ruminations on the emptiness of capitalism with too much of a sense of humour to be angsty (“Death to all false profits, around here we praise a dollar”). Themes of 20-something crises and related musings weave through the album, with references to failed psychotherapy and empty minds, self medication against the quotidian drudgery of life, excess and luxury, and the landscapes of broken wastelands. Forget bouncy ballads or folk fusion or trance-y electronica, Light Up Gold is the rock soundtrack for our quarter-life crises.
Tags: Parquet Courts