Review: Parquet Courts’ debut is poetic punk

Ryan Morris

Editor’s Note: The following reflects the opinions of the author.

Some refer to 1991 as “The Year Punk Broke,” a euphemism for mainstream acceptance of various genres related to punk and post-punk, largely due to the commercial success of bands such as Nirvana.

While so-called “alternative rock” hasn’t really disappeared from the mainstream, it’s arguably evolved into something distant from its vital, energetic roots.
In other words, it’s been a long time since “The Year Punk Broke,” and it may be time for it to break again.

Parquet Courts, a quartet of former Texans who are now Brooklyn-based, are but the most recent and fascinating group in this vein. Their debut album “Light Up Gold” is excellent and refreshing.

“Gold” is primarily a very catchy, enjoyable record. The production is loose and gritty without being lo-fi and the tracks flow into each other to provide a compact, engaging 33-minute listen.

The angular riffs and jittery rhythms found here are reminiscent of bands like Wire, but when filtered through hooky melodies and poetic lyrics, Parquet Courts often resemble literate 1990s indie rock like Pavement.

However, reducing Parquet Courts to a list of influences is somewhat counterproductive. “Light Up Gold” is its own fresh take on independent rock, different from other bands, with strong messages about insecurity and cynicism.

The album starts off strong with opener “Master of My Craft,” a snarky character study of a pretentious businessman anchored by catchy guitar lines and a sarcastic vocal from frontman Andrew Savage.

“Craft” ends by dropping immediately into the incredible “Borrowed Time” with a shouted “Two-three-four!”

“Time” is an irresistibly hooky slice of guitar pop with a pitch-perfect lyrical theme of motivation neglect.

Parquet Courts continues this existential post-collegiate angst throughout the album with each track serving as a sometimes caustic and more often hilarious commentary on what Savage sees as a society with misplaced ideals.

Other highlights include the rip-roaring “Yonder is Closer to the Heart,” which uses mundane imagery of crumpled receipts and pocket lint as a catalyst for a carpe-diem-style epiphany.

The longest song, “Stoned and Starving,” starts with one of the album’s best riffs before managing to become funny and relatable.

“Starving” is a testament to Parquet Courts ability to marry their considerable songwriting skills with unique, complex lyrics.

Rating: Three and a half out of four stars.

Story: COLIN MOORE, A&E Reporter