8. Parquet Courts
Light Up Gold
[What’s Your Rupture]
End of year lists have a way of missing records that are unabashedly, contagiously fun, but dryly conveyed tales of searches for late-night munchies won’t disqualify Light Up Gold. Parquet Courts manages to sound like they don’t care, wearing a practiced slacker vibe with ease, but the Brooklyn (by way of Texas) band’s second album only masquerades as careless and breezy. These are clattering rockers reminiscent of Pavement, Modern Lovers and Wire that rarely top three minutes, but they’re also tightly woven songs employing wry, cynical and charming lyrics.
Both of the band’s songwriters sound frustrated, fearful and uneasy, “captive in this borrowed time,” accustomed to city life while drifting through its banalities and an uncertain future. Even Max Savage’s consistent drumming contributes to Light Up Gold coming off like the shockingly catchy sound of young apathy, but songs like “Careers in Combat” and “Stoned and Starving” imply it’s more about kids despondently shrugging off a lack of jobs and not much else to do. Parquet Courts makes a stoner jam about deciding on Swedish Fish directly relate to only being able to find jobs in the army. Twenty-somethings “remember the feeling/ of the museless existence/ of the drunk, bored and listless.”
Nevertheless, memorable guitar melodies and a spirited jangle makes Light Up Gold sound like a lot of fun, even if the fatigue and insignificance the lyrics explore are often far from it. Frenzied pacing and lightning-quick songs makes the album cruise by without a lull, starting with the seamless combo of “Master of My Craft” and “Borrowed Time” and moving through a total of 15 songs over a half hour. Some blow by fast enough to be easily forgotten (“Light Up Gold 1”) while the most contagious melodies immediately make up for their slighter companions (“Light Up Gold 2”). The scruffy character of songs like the antsy “Borrowed Time,” weary road trip saga “N Dakota” and the feedback-skewered “Caster of Worthless Spells” makes Light Up Gold easy to love, as do sometimes nonexistent transitions and steadfastly mobile post-punk tempos. There are a lot of tangents, but these disheveled songs never drift too far. Light Up Gold is an endearing combination of self-reflection and messy couch-seat New York rock — punk, Americana and the youthful experience combined with the right amount of clearly rendered angst. – Michael Merline