1000 Albums Project


Turn On The Bright Lights, by Interpol
Suggested by Ed Ross

At the start of this project, my reviews were short.

They weren’t noticeably short. It’s more accurate to say they were shorter. I’d aim for three hundred and fifty words minimum, with a cap at five hundred and fifty. A few have strayed over, sprawling to nearly six hundred, but I was pithy.

Nowadays, I’m loquacious. I aim to stick to my top-end cap, but I’m forever rubbing against it and editing down, rather than writing up and stopping when I’m done. This is down to my refining of the form, when balancing the introduction paragraphs with the actual reviewing paragraphs, but sometimes I find I’ve a lot to say with very few words with which to say it.

It’s tough, penning almost six hundred words each time, at an aspirational rate of three times a day. You’d think it’d be an easy task to reign it in, but attaining the right balance is mercurial. Brevity is the ideal, naturally, and I’d be very happy if I could pack it all into three hundred, two hundred, even one-hundred words. Sometimes, just for fun, I try and foment my thoughts on an album into a single sentence or less. That’s a nice mental exercise.

The reason I’m telling you this? Because I’ve distilled my opinions of Interpol into three words, which I’ll reveal at the end of the review. Don’t get excited, they’re a bit weird.

Interpol are a New York based Indie-pop-rock band, hawking their influential wares since 1997. They are pioneers of the New York Indie music scene, with a specifically post-punk revival sound. They employ a staccato bass sound with harmonised and rhythmic guitar, and have been favourable compared to bands such as Joy Division, alongside birthing a host of imitators such as The Killers and Editors.

On the block today is their debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights, regarded by some as one of the more influential releases of the early twenty-first century. If I’m honest, I don’t really see it. It’s a pleasant enough noise, sure, but it doesn’t instil in me anything more ferocious than a vigorous nod of appreciation every now and then. It’s a rather jarring and jangling album at times, exemplified by the opening track Untitled, with dreamlike and echoing guitars that do little to pierce the veil but do a lot to aurally upend you.

The vocals are typically airy indie rock, fused with an echoing lull that mellows the vibe and adds to the otherworldly effect. But before it all descends into hippy-dippy ambience, the overpowering snare drum snaps your head back and keeps it all grounded. As for songs, I enjoyed the Smiths-like vibe of The New and quiet trance-like effects of Hands Away, but my standout is the jaunty bounce of Say Hello to the Angels.

I liked some of this album, but a lot of it melded into one song. Start with a jangling guitar, introduce drums, and vocals that mirror the melody, flail as the rhythm drags us along to the end, rinse, repeat. Pleasant enough, but no bite, no swagger. It shifts and lists, largely in control but hardly dynamic or exciting.

I rate Turn On The Bright Lights at 5/10. I’d sum up the sound as follows: “Flappy Paddle Gearbox.”

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