Album review: Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold (2013, LP)

parquet courts

Hype can often be fatal to new bands, but New York slacker-rock four-piece Parquet Courts are probably too stoned to care. Being labelled by some sections of the music press as the hottest unsigned property knocking around this year’s SXSW festival lead to the band being snapped up by Create/Control and their album being released in Australia. But is the hype justified, or all a bit of the usual industry shenanigans?

In the case of Parquet Courts, the attention and praise lavishly heaped on the band is more than understandable. Light Up Gold is fifteen tracks of a new brand of lyrical slacker-rock; funny, sharp, at times smart, and at times bonehead dumb. In short: it’s fantastic.

The shoddily lo-fi recording quality of Light Up Gold is somehow totally appropriate for this collection of songs – these four guys would probably spit in the face of the idea of a polished record. Opener ‘Master of My Craft’ is a great way to kick off, with singer Austin Brown proudly exclaiming “Socrates died in the fucking gutter!” over a barrage of frantic strumming and simple percussion.

There’s more than a hint of early Clash throughout – before they learned how to play, especially in the brilliant ‘Careers In Combat’, which sees Brown sharing life advice like “there are no spots left for park rangers, because there are no bears left to save you from, but there are still careers in combat my son,” and with a majority of songs under two minutes on length, this is a band that doesn’t give a damn about virtuosity or showmanship. Why would you, when you’ve got so much disaffection and contradiction barely restraining itself in your starving, college drop-out guts? And why not write a song about donuts with an intro that sounds like a Michael Jackson track circa 1985, as on ‘Donuts Only’? Fuck it.

It will be interesting to see where Parquet Courts go from here, and if they have the stomach or desire to toe the industry line, but this album is a damn exciting piece of work.


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