Turn on the Bright Lights
our score: 5.0 out of 5.0
thing with Interpol is that just about everyone starts out any
introduction to the band with overt comparisons to Joy Division,
only this New York band really doesn’t sound all
that much like them. Sure, there is the droning post-punk guitars
and remarkably depressing lyrics, but Interpol is more akin, in
my mind, to postmodern slow-core than to the early legends of
post-punk. And, truth be told, one might even find more similarities
to David Byrne than to Ian Curtis.
are also pretty likely that if you’ve taken the time to
read this review, you’ve likely read a fair share of press
on their debut album by now. Released nearly a year ago now, if
you’re one of those people riding the trends from one hot
band to another, you could’ve even moved on by now, as Interpol
enjoyed their initial popularity due to the drastic hype they’d
received as one of the next “it” bands out of NYC.
But that’s what’s most refreshing about this debut
– the fact that Turn on the Bright Lights ultimately
works as a piece which will be viewed apart from its timely hype
as a largely overlooked classic of the early 21st Century.
opens the disc with jangly one-note monotony that’s a bit
too fast to be slowcore and along with “Obstacle 1”
is where most of the Joy Division comparisons likely stem from.
“I will surprise you sometime / I’ll come around /
when you’re down” sings vocalist Greg Banks, in that
brash post-punk monotonous style; it’s one of the album’s
brightest moments. And then there’s “PDA,” the
track that’s one of the biggest reasons the hype monster
reared its head for Interpol in the first place. It starts out
harmless enough, with a straight-ahead driving rock beat but ends
up sounding more like mid-career Superdrag / shoegazer pop than
anything put out by Echo and the Bunnymen.
the album’s most spectacular moments tend to float in near
the end, with “Stella was a Diver and She was Always Down,”
and the so-lonely-they-almost-feel-cold “Roland
and “Leif Erikson.”
most endearing about Interpol, however, isn’t their fantastic
take on post-punk / early new-wave (in an age where remaking “classic”
styles is all the vogue), but it’s their genuine embrace
of the style. Unlike fellow New Yorkers, The Strokes, Interpol
doesn’t seem at all to be doing the retro thing so they
can be the next big thing. Instead, Turn on the Bright Lights
sounds rather like it could have been plucked right out of the
80’s even if Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, Talking
Heads and all the rest had never even existed – yet it rings
distinctly of today, with a poignancy in lyrics and an underlying
attitude that make this a record that could likely help define
a generation one day.
liked Turn on the Bright Lights...
2. Obstacle 1
5. Say Hello to the Angels
6. Hands Away
7. Obstacle 2
8. Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down
11. Leif Erikson