Parquet Courts - 'Light Up Gold'
One of the best debut albums you’ll hear all year
Let’s get this out of the way nice and early: ‘Light Up Gold’ is one of the best debut albums you’ll hear all year. Its makers – four New York-via-Texas college dropouts – just know. They know that the essence of great rock music lies in the attitude you apply to your songs when writing them, and the venom you coax out when recording them. You can spot it almost immediately by the way singer Andrew Savage emphasises the word ‘fucking’ on opener ‘Master Of My Craft’. “Socrates died in the FUCKING gutter!” Ha! Hahaha! It’s there again in the glorious two-chord howl that is ‘Stoned And Starving’, a thrilling update of Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers’ ‘Roadrunner’ set in the 7-Eleven stores of Ridgewood, Queens. Ditto ‘Borrowed Time’, which is surely a homage to The Feelies’ ‘Fa Cé-La’. It’s everywhere, really, and that’s what makes ‘Light Up Gold’ such a powerful, personality-heavy record.
Most bands fail where Parquet Courts shine because they suck as musicians – too slick and too multi-talented to summon anything that doesn’t drown in overkill. ‘Light Up Gold’ avoids this like the plague. Savage and his buddies understand that aesthetics are as important as the songs themselves, so they fill the record with all kinds of beautifully deft (not to mention daft) nuances: from the many nifty lyrical assertions (“His life was rubbish/Celebrated, yes but rubbish”), to the out-of-place backing vocals, the drum clicks between tracks, and even the tone of their guitars, which have seemingly been beamed straight in from Strokes producer Gordon Raphael’s 2001 time capsule. The entire record is as premeditated and grounded in US alt.rock history as you can get. It fizzes with the energy and freshness of all those influences mentioned previously, along with everyone from Pavement to early REM to Television, and offers precisely nothing that could be deemed ‘forward-thinking’. That’s why it’s so goddamn great.