on April 5, 2003
I bought this album because people told me it sounded just like Joy Division, who are my all-time favorite band. Well, somebody has to say this and it's going to be me- Interpol don't really sound much like Joy Division, and all the reviewers who say otherwise are just demonstrating that they've never really listened all that closely to either band. Yes, Interpol are a dark post-punk band, but the similarity really ends there. Interpol songs are not built around the bass line like Joy Division songs, they aren't nearly as manic-sounding, and the tone of Interpol's music tends to be moody and reflective whereas the tone of Joy Division is coldly futuristic and impersonal. However, Turn on the Bright Lights is a brilliant album in its own right, with some of the best songwriting I've heard in a long time, and songs that grow on you more and more till you hardly want to hear anything else. Of course Interpol have their influences like any band does, and one of those influences might be Joy Division. But they don't really need to be compared to anyone. They shine on their own.
on December 20, 2002
This debut is quite extraordinary (perhaps as impactful as U2 'Boy'). The songs are elegant and complex of craft, with bright, spacious quitars reminiscent of Frank Black of the Pixies. The bass and drum duo often propel the beat with a Gang of Four style funkiness, all underneath the often commented comparison to Ian Curtis (Joy Division)vocals. Tracks 'Obstacle 1', 'Stella' and 'The New' rank with the best of U2 in their day, while 'Untitled' and 'Hands Away' are on par with RadioHead circa 'Kid A'. The wonderful CD closer'Leif Erikson' could have been a lost track from Joy Division. If you liked the Pixies, Gang of Four, Smiths, Furs etc buy this CD. Album of the year? Maybe, not a bad track on it. A band to watch. (Saw them live in NYC and every bit as tight and shimmering as on CD)
on September 12, 2002
Interpol has thrown in a fantastic debut this year, really catching this listner off-guard. I had already pegged The Doves or David Holmes as my favorites of the year, but then along comes this wonderful thing.
Like the Strokes did last year, Interpol has dug up some much needed gritty influence of the past. Where the Strokes was a lighter pop affair, Interpol has gone right into the alleys and seedy clubs of both Manchester England and NYC. The record takes on a lot from Joy Division, Talking Heads and even Television. But it's the spooky quality of Joy Division that's adds some drama and beauty to the dark landscape within. Interpol draws from the past but keeps things sounding new and fresh. Songs like Untitled and NYC are as impressive as any I've heard this year. Like the Manchester music of the late 70's and early 80's, Interpol trys in vein to break out of their grime-laden roots. The result is an honest and soulful exchange delivered with art-ful passion. Matador have once again expanded their library and stumbled upon some truely great rock-n-roll. Turn on your ears to this great disc!
on September 11, 2002
If you've ever wondered whether you'll be around for the appearance of another truly great band that transcends the ordinary of pop music by delivering the raw emotions few others can, take a listen to Turn on the Bright Lights. Untitled and Obstacle 1 introduce the listener to the atmosphere being painted by Interpol, with blurry guitars and dark distant vocals, while driving bass and punchy drumming keep your heart pounding. Screams of "stabbing yourself in the neck" echo in your ears. The peak of this album is reached early, with NYC and PDA. NYC is sad and cathartic as it walks the streets and subways of New York, while PDA plucks at the nerves like a violin from many drunken nights of desperation. Stella is a later highlight, with richly layered guitars and again the dank echoey vocals inviting you into her story.
Interpol's debut reaches the greatness of such icons as Joy Division and Nirvana. Like Unknown Pleasures or Nevermind, the album holds up to repeated listenings, and begs for more. But just like Nirvana or Joy Division, the pressure will be on to see whether these guys can deliver on their promise, or whether they will implode under the expectations.
Who cares if this is a commercial hit? It might be better if it is not. If you've had your eyes out for something different and a cut above, where the emotions feel real, your wait is over.
on January 12, 2003
If you rely on the reviews to decide whether or not to give Interpol a chance you'll wind up thinking that this might be yet another copycat effort in an otherwise dry and uninspired current rock scene.
So is this true then? Do Interpol sound like the Psychedelic Furs or the Joy Division or the Smiths, etc. etc. etc? Hmm, well, in all honesty, when i first heard the album i thought i heard tens of hints and references to several legendary bands of the 80s. Nevertheless, i couldn't come up with a direct comparison. Yes, Interpol combine many elements from the aforementioned bands while at the same time standing their ground with more than enough decency (that IS possible, you know)..
But, it would be unfair to compare these New Yorkers with the Strokes (the Strokes?? please..) or any of these "new" post 80s-postpunk-post whatever-post me a postcard bands. Why? Well, cuzz Interpol are simply better than that lot and because they emit a lot more pathos and involvement in their music. Sound good enough so far?
At their most capturing Interpol are best at their darkest. And dark they are mostly throughout as they narrate everyday stories which are paradoxically rare for the everyman.
Obviously they aren't rediscovering the moon but lets be fair here. There's a reason why the rock scene is stagnant these days and that reason is that it has become damn hard to sound original any more, if not impossible. On that term, this album is one of truly wonderful quality. And, lets face it, what are your choices if you wanna hear straight-out emotional, angsty and intriguing guitars? Limp Bizkit? I didn't think so either...
on December 6, 2004
Revivals are revivals are revivals, and up-and-comers will always get flamed for sounding too much like "insert name of well-known, band of the past".
Be that as it may, I argue that the Joy Division tag Interpol is constantly being given is extraneous. There is an inherent similarity, and comparisons are inevitable. But I think that what Interpol as a collective bring to the music is completely unique from Joy Division. After all, Interpol themselves don't even cite Joy Division as a notable influence on their musical development. Consequently, it seems the boys have gone on their own musical journey, and yielded comprable results, manifest in different ways.
The "gothic" tag too often given to Interpol is completely erroneous. While it may perhaps be accurate for Joy Division, these are NOT the same bands, contexts, or even sounds. The fact is, Interpol can be sad, and can be lugubrious, but can also be cheeky and energetic. For every "Untitled" and "NYC", there are songs like "Say Hello to the Angels" and "Roland", odes to lusty desire and Polish, knife-carrying best friends respectively.
Paul Banks seems to take himself too seriously at times, and at others not at all, on the one hand hoping that living free is not behind him, on the other encouraging a young woman he fancies to "1, 2, 3- do [him]". His lyrics sometimes toe the line of the ludicrous, but ultimately, this man is driven by an intellectual and symbolic objective (His "bad", dangerous girl doesn't drink, party, or sleep around; she can read). The simplicity of the instrumentation is buttressed by the sheer beauty of his voice, which seems to function as the most well-defined melodic device for the group. A description as monotone is tantamount to misunderstanding- it is exactly because of the range and the function over the repetitive rhythms of the instruments that his vocals are so effective: one comes to immediately recognize the nuances in his singing, and appreciate the deep moroseness and sorrow, or hollowness depending on the context, that he utilizes.
Simply put, this is a beautiful album, and despite its failure to invent a whole new genre of music, we must remember that is no reason to deem it unworthy. Interpol is an invitation to enjoy melancholy, and to ignore it as well. After all, it is important to note that these musicians were philosophy majors before their record deals, not drop-outs. "Turn on the Bright Lights" is an intellectual invitation, fraught with existential positions one need only pay attention to to recognize. This album is not a foray into depression, it is an acknowledgement of beauty in both the dark and the light, and is a hell of a lot of fun to dance to. These are not cheap, Joy Division knock-offs. They are be
autiful musicians, coming to fruition on their own.
on May 28, 2007
For the longest time I kept telling myself I really oughta write a nice review for Interpol on Amazon, and tonight's the night. This is my ode to TURN ON THE BRIGHT LIGHTS by the amazing New York band Interpol. I had bought the CD the year it came out and decided to take it with me on a road trip from LA to Vegas. I should say I absolutely dread driving to Vegas, most Angelenos do. What is supposed to be a 3-hour trip usually turns out to be a 5-hour bumper to bumper nightmare and the road leading to Sin City is not exactly scenic, with nothin' but desert and all, I mean, how many cactus can one admire in an endless open field of cactuses? But I sensed this trip was different, and I knew the instant I heard the opening track to this flawless debut of an album.
What's more, with each song I grew increasingly interested in the music and slowly drifted from my environment, finding myself enjoying the ride. The road rage that I had started slipping away with each passing of familiar street signs. Imagine a perfect harmony of landscape blended with poetry for my ears. Surely this can't be one of the rare albums that I can listen to throughout its entirety, I pondered, and anticipated. In the end I wasn't let down. With each repeated listen (that's the trick I think, one would have to give this multiple consecutive hearings in order to fully appreciate it), I realized I started developing feelings for the album.
Ah, but let me tell you why.
Each song tells a story, and when I'm told a story, I want it to be as intoxicating, as dreamy and as atmospheric as each song is on this album. It evokes a mood that's long lost along with childhood, the mood of being afloat, being weightless, being innocent with a sense of discovery. As soon as you hear the opening words, you'll know you're being transferred to a place where you wish time stood still. It's mesmerizing, this album, to say the least. And it is dark, and ambient, and very moody, in all good sense of the words. It is music that evokes the very feelings in me, the longing, the fears, the hopes and the dreams. Whenever I'm in a bad mood or have had a tough day, I play this album and instantly feel better. It has over the years become my best friend, my confidant, my haven, a way to relax and enjoy this thing called life. This album is excellent throughout and that's how one should listen to it, in its entirety, but like anybody else I have my own personal favorites:
The beautifully lush opener "Untitled" really paints a picture for the rest of the album. This song makes me want to renew old friendships with long neglected school chums, "I will surprise you sometime, I'll come round.." It reminds me of the carefree, more fearless days of my youth.
"Obstacle 1" and "PDA" were singles I had heard on the radio that propelled me to buy the album. Both are fast with great guitar and drums. I thought if the rest of the songs sound like the two, it'd be money well spent. Turns out I got every pennies' worth and then some. This record really was the best 13-dollar investment I've ever made.
An early favorite is "Hands Away." This is perhaps the most melodic, most hypnotic song on the album. I was cast under its spell upon hearing the beginning riffs. "Will you put my hands away, will you be my man?..." This song is kinda like "Untitled" in that there are only a handful of lyrics to both the songs but the impact they'll hit you with is immeasurable.
My absolute favorite song in the Interpol catalogue is the wonderfully sexually blatant, yet tender and romantic 7-minute opus called "Stella Was a Diver and She's Always Down." It's flawless, this song. There is not a part in this epic song that I don't like. From the music to the lyrics, it's like a dream, and a nice way of spending seven minutes of one's day, loving "Stella" the way Paul Banks does:
"when she walks down the street, she knows there's people watching
building fronts are just fronts, to hide the people watching her
she once fell through the street, down the man hole in that bad way
the underground drip, was just like her scuba days..."
The last song on the album is called "Leif Erikson" and I find out he's one of the first European settlers to set foot in the States. I don't know what that has to do with the song really, cos to me this song conjures up all kinds of notions and ideals of romance. From Paul's voice and the lyrics to the dreamy surreal atmosphere of the drums and guitars, this the most mesmerizing song of all:
"she says it helps with the lights out
her rabid glow is like braille to the night
she feels that my sentimental side should be held with kids gloves
she doesn't know that I left my urge in the ice box
she swears I'm just prey for the female
well then hook me up and pull me babycakes
cause I like to get hooked
the clock is set for nine but you know you're gonna make it eight
so that you can take some time and teach each other to reciprocate..."
If you're still reading this then tonight's the night. Get romanced by a lil' Interpol and who knows, maybe you'll start harboring feelings too.
Afterall, they're nothing more than feelings.
on February 20, 2004
I hate to write a second review for this so I won't, I'll just address the people reviewing this...
How can this possibly receive 1 star? Listen to it. It sounds good. The sound is fresher than most stuff made today. These are true statements.
Others give it 1 star because it is so derivative. Yeah, maybe... but does that make it terrible? Hardly. Most bands today don't even hope to have decent source material; they're busy trying to make retarded rhymes or sound disturbed... some are so lame they even name themselves things like "Disturbed". Interpol is not as awful as all that.
OK, now to address the "this is the best thing since orgasms" crowd. Wrong again. All of the "It's derivative" people do have a point. Can you see that? This stuff sounds so much like 80's postpunk that it makes all of us over 25 go back and pull out the original 80's postpunk bands. Do not try to hide from this fact or bury it and say it's untrue. Nothing that is so closely connected to its source material can be ascribed the 'best ever' label.
Others have said that it's the only album in their vast collection that they can listen to start to finish. Well 10 CDs ain't exactly vast then. I've got over 200 that I'm happy to go coast-to-coast with... and yes, this is one of them. Interpol is very good all the way through.
In sum, let's not overreact or exaggerate so much that we all look foolish. If you like it that much then a 5-star rating makes sense, but it just isn't the best album ever made. And it sure isn't the worst... Haven't you guys heard Milli Vanilli or Loverboy?
on March 2, 2003
I bought this album based upon the hype surrounding this release. However, unlike the Strokes this band IS something special.
First, allow me to clear my throat: These guys only bear a SLIGHT semblence to Joy Division in that their lead singer kind of drones on with a fuzzy distortion around his voice and the tunes have a bit of the New Order/Joy Division musicianship MINUS Peter Hook's hypnotic base lines. Finally, Ian Curtis was a much more morose and troubled character whose life bled into his vocals and music.
All that aside, I think this album resembles the airy pop sounds of bands like My Bloody Valentine (albeit on a lighter tip), Catherine Wheel, (again on a lighter tip), and of course Joy Division for the orchestrations. They even have a hint of Smashing Pumpkins in them in their arrangements.
These guys are very good and hearken back to a mix of the early 80's gothic rock and early 90's post grunge rock with the swirling guitars and melodies.
I think this sound has always had a special staying power and its good to see it back in a new package. Matador records has done it again! Think of what you felt when the first Radiohead CD came out: I was impressed but not overwhelmed.
Now think how you felt after listening to "The Bends."
Thats how I feel about this band and I can't wait to see if this spawns record labels to sign other bands with this sound to capture what I predict will be the latest renissance in modern music.
on March 3, 2004
After owning this album for about half a year, I have characterized it as being dark and dreary with a soothing undertone. I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. Lead singer Paul Bank's voice is deep and dark. It sounds like what I think of when picturing a rainy day in New York City. Even though I have never been to New York City. However, the background sounds create an amazing haze that brings you to another world. The vocal/guitar combinations are intertwined to synthesize something very fulfilling. Yeah I know they are criticized for sounding too much like Joy Division, whatever. Everything comes from somewhere. I think that Interpol has done something unique with their album, Turn on the Bright Lights.
If you're looking for happiness within this album, go somewhere else. If you're looking for thoughts, this album might help you spark some. I first loved this album for the guitar chords. It definitely grew on me with each listen, and I didn't really like it right away. Just give it a chance