It takes Golden Rules for Golden People ten seconds to establish its creators’ songwriting talent. Ten seconds later, when the record leaps out of a soundworld familiar to fans of Fun and into the angular territory of Vampire Weekend, a distinctly un-pop vision begins to assert itself.
There is enough material jammed into Golden People’s thirty-two minutes to fill three average indie records (or five albums from Mumford and Sons). Not a single song follows a conventional verse-chorus-verse template, and in this formal wilderness, the very idea of a returning chorus is something of a novelty. Even the saccharine intro to “Stallion and Mare” reoccurs only as a tacked-on fadeout at the end of the number, although the opening lyric “we are all instruments” eventually hacks its way into the fray midway through the climactic eighth track, “Money Music”.
Golden People’s density goes some way to explaining the long wait for its release. Between 2008’s LP Get Young and the 2012 EP Us You All We, scarcely a studio yip yap or yop emerged from indie rockers Pretty and Nice. Appetites barely whetted, the band’s acolytes had to wait more than a year for the followup full-length – and now, here it is, in all its candy-coated Ritalin-deprived glory.
It wouldn’t be Pretty and Nice if it wasn’t at least a little nasty, however. Lest their songs be perceived as the gems they are, the band plasters each one with alienating devices by turns irritating, sardonic and downright twisted. Take “Critters”, for example, a chiptune odyssey that, halfway through, pretzels itself into a ticking gift from Hypnotize-era System of a Down. Or how about the pornographically- (pornauditorily?-) punctuated gallop of New Czar, a track which, in addition to tossing a chorus or two in the general direction of prettiness, also serves up the band’s closest approximation of romantic fervor with the declaration “you are my Czar!”? Judging by the vitriolic anti-sexiness that follows in “Q_Q”, Pretty and Nice see themselves as ‘your Bolsheviks’.
By the time the pace slows at “Golden Fools”, sensory overload has begun to set in, and the fog of battle clears just long enough for some thematic lucidity to peep through. Then, with “Yonkers”, the production line sputters back to life, making a short-lived acoustic dipsy-doodle at the opening of “Golden Rules” before hammering home its disenfranchised thesis.
Golden Rules is a frenetic album for a frenetic time. Anyone who thinks that Mindless Self Indulgence would be better off trading some of their obscenity for poetry or Of Montreal could use a dose of metal-black coffee will be left googly-eyed with ecstasy by Golden Rules for Golden People.