Turn On the Bright Lights
/Matador - Labels; 2002/

rating : 9.5



more info :

I'm going to review this since Barbara is in a post-listening shock state and can't judge this record objectively. And anyway, the only thing she would be able to say about it would be something like "nmmmmmmmmksssrrfprt." 

So. Interpol are four dudes from NYC. They have released three eps so far (one on chemikal underground, one self-released and one on matador) and on every ep there is 'PDA' a terrific bulldozer song with a thrilling chorus. Everything's good in Interpol, the musicians are all awesome, the drums are impressive, the bass is massive and melodic, the rhythm guitar is inventive and the lead guitar unleashes implacable melodies. And there's Paul Banks' voice. It's tight and haunted, delivering cleverly-penned lines. We've been waiting for this album for about a year now. Let's start the review.

One of the things I had feared about this record was over-production. Gareth Jones mixed the thing, and he's responsible for some Depeche Mode stuff so, I was kinda suspicious. Thankfully the band decided to stick with the live sound. They even start the album with untitled, their shows' opening song in which the line "I will surprise you sometime, I'll come around when you're down" slowly unfolds. Things start for real with Obstacle 1, a killer song with an unbelievable chorus during which we can only be impressed by the dynamics between all the elements, the guitars intertwining in an organic way, Paul Banks' phrasing and the rhythmic section. NYC, the next song is a beautiful night ballad during which Banks sings "It's up to me now, turn on the bright lights" with an impatient, tight and yet serene voice. The tremolo guitar sound is one of the things that is in most of the band's songs, it's reminiscent of some of Godspeed You Black Emperor's pre-explosion parts. The next song is PDA and there's not a lot of things left to say about it except that it's hauntingly catchy. 

Say Hello to the Angels doesn't sound like the other Interpol songs. Some people who heard the song live told me that it sounded like the Strokes' Last Night and it didn't struck me. It makes me think more of the Smiths than anything else, with its funky guitar rhythm. It's nice, utterly pop, featuring an amazing intro with panzer drums and a oppressive guitar riff. Banks' delivery during the chorus is unbelievable. Hands Away feature the same efficiently simple intertwining of guitars and a synth fog drowning the singer's voice. Obstacle 2 is as impressive as Obstacle 1. The chorus explodes with Banks howling in the back. Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down is probably Interpol's best song, the most emotional. There is a underlying sense of emergency in Interpol's song and in Banks' voice. Everything is so tight you think it could explode at any moment. But in the same time, the feeling of emergency is backed with an elder serenity : most of the songs are about relationships failing and they almost sound like they're cool with that. 

Roland is the most aggressive song in Interpol's bag and clearly one of the best. It's even catchier than PDA and the album version is a lot faster than the fukd I.D. 3 one. A dark dark dark punk song in which Banks sings his chorus as fast as he can "But they caught him with his case in a public place, that is what we had feared / his several segments secretly like them / his several segments so secretly like them / he always had the time to speak with me, i liked him for that." The New is an exploding epic, lead by a catchy bass part and now familiar melodic guitar lines. The album finishes with Leif Erikson -named after the first European to step on the American continent- which ends with a surrendering Banks singing "you conquered me," to which we want to reply in our corniest voice : "no, you conquered us."


/sept. 1st 2002/