Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold
Hyperliterate punks cast a jaundiced eye on a rotten culture
Anyone looking for a shorthand to describe the devil-may-care attitude pervading Light Up Gold, the irresistible debut from Brooklyn band Parquet Courts, will find it 24 seconds into the first song, when Austin Brown first sneers the album’s most indelible hook: “Forget about it!” It’s meant sarcastically — he’s playing the part of a privileged one-percenter looking down his nose through his monocle at the unwashed masses — but it’s a good indication of the jaundiced eye through which Parquet Courts view our troubled times. Like the most beloved cult movies, the thing that makes Light Up Gold so addicting is its infinite quotability. On regional cuisine? “As for Texas: Donuts Only. You cannot find bagels here.” On the value of wisdom? “Socrates died in the fucking gutter.” And on the job market? “The lab is out of white lab coats/ ’cause there are no more slides and microscopes/ But there are still careers in combat, my son.” They drop these bon mots between jagged guitar lines that sound like they were lifted from Wire’s 154 — bent-coathanger leads that teeter on the steep incline between punk and post-punk. But Light Up Gold‘s greatest irony is that its creators aren’t ironic at all. In their interview with Douglas Wolk, they stressed the importance of emotional honesty, and as the album goes on it becomes clear their acrid wit isn’t the result of disaffection but deep-seated alarm. Sarcasm is the scalpel they use to dissect contemporary culture, turning its ambivalence against itself and exposing is rotten core. Insight like that is as rare as a bagel in Texas.