Parquet Courts pick up where they left off a year ago, on their 2012 debut Light Up Gold, with the slicing guitars and razor-sharp smirks of this new EP. It’s as much about being a know-it-all as it is about knowing nothing, as Andrew Savage makes clear on opener “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now”, in which he wonders over his old certainty that, say, “toothache is better than heartache.” There’s both pure wanderlust and uncertainty in “Descend (The Way)”, and “The More It Works” seems to both challenge and send-up punk ethos.
These songs all work because the band’s arch humor is tempered by excellent, air-tight song-craft. They move from angular post-punk to swampy rock, making each song a thorny variation on a theme. Unfortunately, the last seven minutes of the record are devoted to the goof-rap antics of “He’s Seeing Paths”, a variation too thorny to be charming and, thus, an irritation counterpoint to the EP’s more interesting moments. This EP shows that there’s still much to learn about Parquet Courts’ shifting sound, but it also shows the limitations of their cleverness.