Thursday, 15 May 2014

Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold (2012)

I know nothing of this group other than that some bloke on facebook, specifically the bloke who suggested I might enjoy the Sleaford Mods - and was right, seemed to regard them as a good thing. It sounded decent enough to me, so I bought the CD in order to listen to it on my discman like the caveman I am with my flared trousers and furniture moulded from orange plastic spheres. I still don't care too much for downloads, having had endless problems with the one iPod I own, and generally preferring physical objects, partially because with the effort necessary for the production and distribution of a compact disc or vinyl album, most artists will at least try to make sure the material is of such quality as to justify that effort. At least that's the theory.

Light Up Gold could probably have been recorded at any point between now and 1978 or thereabouts, so I suppose might be deemed to be of a kind with obvious appeal to those who, like myself, prefer the good old days back when everything was better than it is now. This initially sets off my alarm bells being as I'm generally sceptical of nostalgia industries, particularly those which dress like it's still 1972 and pluck at an acoustic guitar in order to sell expensive yoghurts; but whatever Parquet Courts do, whoever they may be and whatever it is they're playing at, they're good enough to short circuit such prejudices.

The cover is one of those casually scribbled jobs designed by Mark E. Smith doodling on the cover of one of his own Fall albums, or thereabouts, and the music is recorded in keeping with this aesthetic - basic, but not so basic as to be making any sort of self-conscious lo-fi statement. It's New York guys kicking up a tuneful din in their garage, but thankfully nothing like the fucking Strokes. I've a feeling Parquet Courts may sound a little like Pavement, except the only Pavement I recall hearing was chopped up and sampled by dj n-wee for The Slack Album, a version of The Black Album by Jay-Z which was, I thought, significantly better than the original. So, lacking qualifications to make comparisons with Pavement, Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers seem the next obvious parallel thanks to that chugging, breezy, enthusiasm, sort of like Velvet Underground without the whining. Then again, wafting a Jilly Goolden hand across the speaker, I'm getting a sort of Rockabilly version of REM before they turned into U2, countrified bits of early Devo, a caffeinated Beck with more sincerity, even The DBs if anyone remembers them, and it would be nice to think that somebody did. Listening closer still, Light Up Gold sounds like none of these things, but rather seems to be its own animal - a fairly accurate evocation of the sheer joy of being in a band, so far as I recall, and yet existing in 2014 without this representing a contradiction. I hate people who say things like a good tune will never go out of style, but Jesus this is a great record.

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