On paper, there’s almost nothing to Parquet Courts to get excited about. They’re a lo-fi indie punk band from Brooklyn. Great. Exactly what the world needs. Yet what they lack in originality they make up for in abundance by not giving a single hoot about originality. More so than actually trying to nail some kind of unique look, sound or overall aesthetic, not caring is what makes Parquet Courts cool. Their sound is neither new nor at all inventive – it’s just the best fun.
Sitting somewhere on a spectrum between the cheery lackadaisicalness of Mac Demarco and Pissed Jeans’ more visceral battering, Light Up Gold does spend time worrying about the world (one of its best tracks is the minute long ‘Careers In Combat’, which lists preferable career options before dejectedly declaring that all that’s really available any more are jobs in the army), but – whether out of apathy or despondency – its makers simply decide to get stoned in the face of it all. Smoking weed is a concern addressed in statements both pithy (all 1’50” of ‘Yr No Stoner’) and comparatively epic (the five minute centrepiece of ‘Stoned And Starving’). And though stoner jams emanating from four average white dudes is the kind of thing I’d usually scoff at were they to be recommended my way, there’s just something so endearing, lacking in pretence and musically satisfying about the way Parquet Courts juxtapose topics both weighty and insignificant that has me firmly onside.
It helps that for the most part that they play so fast that there simply isn’t time to get bored. There are twenty second songs you’ll forget (‘Light Up Gold I’), but minute long ones you’ll hum to yourself all over town (erm… ‘Light Up Gold II’). They’ve also structured the album expertly; its mere half hour running time feels laid out exactly as one would imagine a Parquet Courts set goes, with gaps between songs kept to a minimum, or in the case of the seamless transition between fine opener ‘Master Of My Craft’ and the following ‘Borrowed Time’, completely nonexistent (the instant where the former ends and the latter takes over is my favourite single millisecond of guitar music for some time).
It’s not the kind of record that’ll have you screaming “guitars are back!” from the rooftops, as Parquet Courts in honesty don’t sound like they’d be interested in the responsibility. There’s an air of despondency about the state of the things to it, but it’s not delivered in a way that makes them sound uninformed or uninterested. Most of Light Up Gold sounds like a deliberate choice to have dumb fun made by people very aware that the world’s so crappy that no amount of effort is likely to change things. It’s actually kind of sad, when you think about it. But Parquet Courts don’t sound like they’re thinking about it. Light Up Gold isn’t total hedonism, but as riotous, guitar-led escapes from the drudgery of the day to day go, it’s more than enough fun to convince you to go along for the ride.