Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)
by Tim Den
I wanted so badly to dislike this band for the same reasons I wanted so badly to dislike The Strokes. “More ‘NY Hipster Rock’? Fuck them pretty boys. They probably can’t play or write for shit.” Guess what? I’m batting zero for two.
Like The Strokes, Interpol backs up the buzz with substance. While The Strokes emulate the late-’60s/early-’70s Please Kill Me vibe, Interpol tap into early ’80s Manchester suicide pop ala Joy Division and The Smiths… but make the mixture their own by throwing in contemporary spins as well (are those The Dismemberment Plan’s rhythms on album highlight “Obstacle 1?” Fuckin’-a that song rumbles the floor boards). But who’s drawing a genealogy tree when the music’s so damn infectious, moody, and sexily cold? Guitarist/vocalist Paul Banks’ delivery is so deadpan – so uninterested – that it actually ends up capturing a morbid attractiveness not unlike Godflesh’s bleakest moments. Backed by bassist Carlos D.’s charming-and-charismatic lines, I can already see girls rubbing themselves to this disc. Shit, even I find myself up and ready for a night on the prowl when opener “Untitled” kicks in like a Doves song-on-heroin.
“Say Hello to the Angels” is a cloudy day trot down London’s back alleys (and where the band’s use of The Smith’s tempos become most apparent), while “Roland” sports an almost post-hardcore-ish verse riff. Fuck, there are just too many reasons to like Turn on the Bright Lights. So they dress like Talking Heads without a hint of irony (should we be thankful?). So what? Stop paying attention to the fashion and realize the brilliance of the music.
(625 Broadway New York, NY 10012)