Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold

by Steve Reynolds Rating:8.5 Release Date:2013-01-15

New York City has had a profound effect on music as the decades have passed by, giving us such gems as The Velvet Underground, Television, Sonic Youth, The New York Dolls, right through to the modern day sounds of The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. So when a new band tries to stake a claim, it's a driver for them to want to be as important and try as hard as humanly possible to be right up with their contemporaries and, in some cases, their idols. Enter Parquet Courts, who've put down a marker with their debut Light Up Gold.

Right from the opening bars of 'Master of My Craft', it's very easy to detect a bunch of guitar-chancer-slackers who aren't trying to write something idiosyncratic, rather taking a view that plagiarism isn't a negative by taking their favourite influences and tweaking them to draw a subtle advantage. Effectively, they have made an album that you shouldn't be afraid to dance to. Yes, there are some who've said they sound like The Strokes but take away the first two songs and you couldn't be further from that accusation. While Is This It? had pop nous beneath the rattle, Light Up Gold has grit, an undercurrent feeling of wanting to win and determination, in spades.

The album boasts songs here which weigh in at over three minutes, but it also has urgent, slack-jawed guitar-jerks such as 'Careers in Combat', which lasts a paltry 60 seconds. It's still a vibrant piece of music and would sit perfectly on Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted. 'Light Up Gold II' is resplendent with school-yard chants and hooky, driving bass overseen by a screeching lead guitar. The music is very direct throughout but they almost do sensitive on 'North Dakota', on which Andrew Savage's laconic drawl is effortlessly beguiling.

'Stoned and Starving' is the centrepiece of Light Up Gold and the album's standout track. It glides effortlessly, soaring through your ear canals and piercing your drums at just the right level of intent. The guitar soloing, ubiquitous throughout, isn't overstated but pitched at just the right level for five-plus minutes, it's catchy and would probably be worthy of a single release if it wasn't for its length.

Towards the tail-end of the album, there are a couple of musically darker pieces, laced with vitriol. Check out the Lee Ronaldo-sounding catcalls over a wail of discordant guitar on 'Caster of Worthless Spells', or the crowd-baiting yelp of 'PT Spell'. It's all leading to a false sense of security, however, as the light punches past the shade on 'Tears of Plenty', with Savage endorsing his own influences: "Slacker conference at the buffet table/ double dip in the goose fat table". Yes, the lyrics make no sense at all, but who the fuck cares when they have wrapped it all up with an album full of adverse horizontal guitar-jerks and a rampant rhythm-section of spunk and enthusiasm?

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