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Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold

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Artist: Parquet Courts

Album: Light Up Gold

Label: What's Your Rupture?

Review date: Jan. 17, 2013

Considering that a sense of humor is one of the basic components we look for in romantic relationships, it’s strange how divisive it can be when introduced into pop art, and specifically, music. Singer Andrew Savage explores the wackier end of the humor spectrum with Fergus & Geronimo, wherein the only thing more ludicrous than the story arcs about alien spies are his inebriated jaunts through every quirky subgenre of rock ‘n’ roll. Sure, sometimes projects with far flung influences and fantastical conceptual story lines make for interesting works of art, but Funky was the State of Affairs was not one of them.

Mercifully, the debut album from Parquet Courts, wherein Savage shares singing and songwriting duties with fellow Texas native Austin Brown, is a more streamlined affair, both musically and lyrically. So, while focusing the microscope on the minutiae of everyday life as a twentysomething isn’t as conceptually adventurous, and is only debatably funny, it makes for a better album in this case.

In fact, Light Up Gold’s sound might even be described as conservative, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you tread the same ground as Wire, Gang of Four and The Fall. Parquet Courts is tighter than many bands that go that route, and Light Up Gold is chock full of taut guitar parts and abrupt pauses that make the already short songs pass even more quickly. Considering the quality of some of these tunes, that’s not a problem — more time for repeated listens.

“Borrowed Time” is one of the first memorable pop songs of 2013 and it’s only slightly better than the album’s other high points. Savage admits to “endless waiting for something that I knew wasn’t coming,” a spot-on way of expressing the young adult fear of having no ideas worth expressing. Even the band’s one foray into silliness with “Stoned and Starving,” a too-long jam session that owes as much to the Velvet Underground as to the ingredients of Cool Ranch Doritos, charms with self-effacing wit.

The only misstep is “No Ideas,” which drives home that fear of futility a little too hard: “I went to a shrink / and he saw my brain / and I had no ideas is what he found.” Most of Light Up Gold’s songs are either filled with clever insights or self-aware honesty. Not only is “No Ideas” annoying, it’s not even true.

By Valerie Paschall

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