New York City sure is a bi
tch. Every day I'm forced to hear about a new gang of metrosexuals who decided to pick up a piece of wood and bang away. When they were done with the groupies, music seemed like a new ass
-magnet. The 1980s sucked too, y'know? We had those heavy-hearted little pansy boys going around singing about deep shi
t. Who needs that kind of pitter patter when I can go rock out to the new Asia album? Joy Division were little school girls too, Ian Curtis obviously had an attraction to having his heart phunk'd with. Cry me a river, Liberace.Closer
is like listening to two quadrapalegics attempting to have intercourse with the lights off, and is just as boring as any Jennifer Lopez film.
Now I'm going to be the odd reviewer out and say that the Interpol = Joy Divison statement is stupid. There is a fine line between what people consider vaguely intelligent or stupid in a witty sense, and just plain idiocy. This comparison does not stand on its own, why? Joy Division, the seminal post-punk band who's lead singer, Ian Curtis, hung himself just prior to an upcoming tour of the United States, were minimalistic and sparse. The closest thing the band ever came to sounding intricate would be the inclusion of those depressing synthesizers. Interpol, however, are not dynamically challenged. Their music tends ot be intricate and well thought out, with interplay from all three stringed instruments. There is one aspect that is comparable though: the vocals. Both Ian Curtis and Paul Banks singing with a deep, sometimes monotonous howl (though Curtis was much more restrained).
Building upon three previous EPs, Turn on the Bright Lights
comes out sounding confident. You can't blame the boys though; they're dressed in black dress attire, fresh haircuts, and are well-kept if I say so myself. This is not particularly reflected in the music, besides the smooth, complimentary production. "Obsctacle 1" is the first great song that Interpol have written, a manic, anguished take on love. It is the only song here to go anywhere near the Joy Division template, most notabley in Paul Banks vocals. He sings with a melodramatic, tormented shout; "We can cap times old make playing only logical harm / We can cap the old lines make playing that nothing else will change". It shifts from one assault line to the next, never letting up, but establishing a new sense of emotional density with every syllable, until it ends on a breathtaking climax of "She puts weights into my little hard". "NYC" automatically counters the grand-drama with lush guitars and reverberating vocals; a trademark sound that continues throughout the album, especially on heart-wrenchers like "Hands Away" and "Obsctacle 2", a track that shares nothing with the mellodramatic semi-opener but name.
Cleverly titled and equally as anthemic as "Obstacle 1", "Stell Was a Diver and She Was Always Down" surrounds itself within a shroud of spacial guitars and Paul Banks jittery vocals. When the bass punches through with it's bouncy stab, everything in the song starts to come together. Banks sounds more dissapointed than the frantic depression and stride for love than on previous tracks. Closer inspection of the lyrics, however, hint at an urban tale of prostituion more than anything else;
When she walks down the street / She knows there's people watching / The building fronts are just fronts / To hide the people watching her.
Always quick to counteract previous musical statements, "Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down" heads straight into the anthemic post-punk rocker "Roland". Driving at a lean and mean speed, it's easily one of the most viscerally exciting songs on Turn on the Bright Lights
, with a touch of noise and Cure-esque melodies. Lyrically, it's humurous ( My best friend's a butcher, he has sixteen knives / He carries them all over the town at least he tries / Oh look it stopped snowing / My best friend's from Poland and, um, he has a beard. / But they caught him with his case in that public place / That is what we had feared"), conciously followed by two of the most obviously beautiful and well-crafted songs on Turn on the Bright Lights
, "The New" and "Leif Erikson". The former oozes along with that certain glacial beautiful of Sigur Ros, going from a melodic bass figure to a restrained semi-ballad, from a miraculous, chiming drone to a pitch-bending guitar sprawl. "Leif Erikson" is achingly beautiful, with Paul Banks anguished, echoing vocals and ethereal guitar washes, somehow coming close to Joy Division halfway through the song.. Once again, the songwriting is wonderful, one aspect of the band that is often replaced with ill-conceived 80s references and off-hand remarks...
She says It helps with the lights out / Her rabid glow is like braille to the night / She swears I'm a slave to the details / But if your life is such a big joke, why should I care?
But really, the best thing about Turn on the Bright Lights
is that Interpol aren't trying to shy away from their influences. Despite claims of blatantly ripping off acts as wide-ranging as Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Cure, Interpol somehow seem more in touch with the world around them than the self-centered hermits like Robert Smith. Love isn't just another lyrically-deprived topic anymore, baby, and Interpol know this. Images and recollections of New York City are everywhere on the album, like so many other bands to emerge from there, but somehow here it feels more humbling and nostalgiac than what any Stroke will be able to muster up over a 10 year period.
Julian Casablancas is a blathering ninny hamster, anyway.
Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down