Our Love To Admire

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Interpol nerd! A review for Our Love To Admire hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

Our Love To Admire by Interpol

“Pioneer To The Falls”

“No I In Threesome”

“The Scale”

“The Heinrich Maneuver”

“Mammoth”

“Pace Is The Trick”

“All Fired Up”

“Rest My Chemistry”

“Who Do You Think”

“Wrecking Ball”

“The Lighthouse”

Antics

Sophomore slump? A band daring to test the boundaries of its sound and going in some questionable directions? Attempting to too closely replicate the unbelievable success of its previous long player and instead producing mediocrity? None of these describe Interpol’s second album Antics. If anything, the band took cues from its earliest material and expanded on it in exciting and surprising new ways.

The foursome from New York City coalesced into a rampaging live band in the early 2000’s, gaining popularity and high expectations based on a series of early EP’s. After releasing their first album on Matador Records, Turn On The Bright Lights, the fame and expectations grew considerably more. Based on their initial recordings, comparisons to bands like Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen were legion, it seemed. With Antics, however, the band expanded their sound, and proved that comparisons were feathers next to what they were really capable of.

After beginning work on the album late in 2003, only a year after the release of Turn On The Bright Lights, Antics was released in September of 2004, and quickly received critical praise. The beauty of the work on first listen was that the band had refined the sound that they had crafted for themselves by creating songs that were more hook-laden, while still presenting the dark edge and unique flavor that they had become known for.

Three singles, a bevy of annual top 10 lists and one remix EP later, and the album could be considered enough of a success that it garnered the band opening spots on tour with U2 and the Cure, and eventually a major label deal with Capitol Records for their next album. Even though it sold less and may have made less of a splash than their first album, it is undeniable that Antics is a compelling album with depth and emotion to spare, and that it served as a springboard for Interpol in their quest to make incredible music for the masses.

Interpol — Antics: Track-by-track review

1. “Next Exit”
A lilting organ. Sparse drums complemented by Carlos D’s sexy bass line. “We ain’t going to the town/We’re going to the city” With this, the boys from NYC open an album that hinges on and wonderfully develops those sentiments and more.

“Next Exit” is a slow burn, and an ideal introduction to the album. It exhibits each of the most important facets of Interpol — the aforementioned rhythm section, the minor-keyed guitars, and Paul Banks’ inimitable vocals.

In fact, it seems almost to be a call to arms — a dare to the uninitiated. Banks and the band seem to be imparting a sense of “this is going to be an adventure, and a little dangerous, but you’re going to love it”. And for those who already count themselves as fans of the group, it is simply a crashing reminder of what caused them to fall in love in the first place.

2. “Evil”
As the drums and organs are clipped at the end of the previous track, in comes throbbing bass at the hands of Carlos D. Similar in sound and in tone to “PDA” from Turn On The Bright Lights, “Evil” continues the tale of the album.

Although not a concept album or specifically themed to the casual listener, Antics does seem to have a persistent message. It feels like a Baudelaire poem set to music, like a Bret Easton Ellis book with more romance, failed though it may be.

With talk of trials, cellmates, and juries, the song plays like a revelation of obsession, sexual and otherwise, resulting in violence, and most likely criminality. These things aren’t meant to be literal, but rather a metaphor for the perpetual loneliness and recriminations of an adult yet immature relationship.

Sam Fogarino’s machine-like drumming and Paul Banks’ staccato delivery of the first stanza of the song, before any guitars interrupt the mood, could give even the most jaded listener chills.

3. “Narc”
In stark contrast, Daniel Kessler’s jagged guitars open the third track on the album, but the smooth and powerful rhythm section quickly joins in. Again, the vocal delivery and almost metric style of Paul Banks’ singing is hypnotizing in the early part of the song.

Although a decidedly sensual song, both sonically and lyrically, there is still the undercurrent of darkness, and something sinister. To begin with, there is the title, “Narc”. There are questions regarding whether or not it is supposed be fully capitalized, with Banks going so far as to claim that it is an acronym. For what, no one seems to know. Primarily, the term Narc is short for narcotics officer, and in colloquial usage, refers to someone who rats someone else out, particularly in regards to drug usage.

For a broader, more metaphorical approach, however, the idea of a Narc can be thought of someone who was once in your inner circle, but has since changed their loyalties, and has turned against you. In this sense, the song continues some of the thematic elements presented previously. Although there is love between the narrator and someone else, there is also little love lost, such as in the line “control me, console me/cause that’s just how it should be done”. This line encapsulates the dual nature of the relationship, with the moral ambiguity further spelled out with “poses we’ll make soon/will reveal our sense of right”. The narrator is a moral relativist, especially in this case.

4. “Take You On A Cruise”
Guitars again begin the track, this time a mix of howling and jangling. The lyrics begin on a somewhat silly path, with mention of Fred Astaire, but in a way, that sort of debonair and charming iconography is a reasonable reflection of the narrator presented so far.

The titular cruise, and the ship referred to in the song refer to the narrator’s offer of a life together, marriage and children. It’s uncertain if he’s offering out of desperation or true intentions, however, given the characterization of the relationship thus far.

Beyond this, the track is another smooth and satisfying scene of the story being told, meandering a little more slowly. Buried within the promises of glory and happiness is a murmur of what truly exists — “the anatomy of kisses and the future of lies”. The question is whether anyone will hear those words, however.

5. “Slow Hands”
This was the first single from the album, actually released in advance of the CD itself, and is a slightly jarring return from the winding nature of the previous track. It is also the only song on the album that directly refers to the content of the first album, Turn On The Bright Lights, with the line”you put the weights all around yourself now”. This hearkens to Interpol’s first single from TOTBL, “Obstacle 1”, which said “she puts the weights into my little heart”.

And in some ways, that reflects some of the evolution of this album, and the message it intends to send. It’s as if the narrator has become wise to her game, or has become increasingly cynical himself, but rather than walk away, has chosen to duplicate and thereby double the recriminations and misery.

One could be duped into believing other things about Interpol and this album if this were the first and only song that they were exposed to. The riff which persists throughout borders on being played in a major key, the lyrical structure is nearly pop, and there are backing vocals in part which are almost sing-songy. To some degree, this is the ideal single for an album as dense and dark as Antics. Luckily, it is also found at an ideal spot in the track listing, perking up the listener after a song like “Take You On A Cruise” and segueing nicely into the second half of the disc.

6. “Not Even Jail”
Now come the pedal effects, reverb, feedback — the live sound attempting to be fully captured and realized within the confines of the studio. If this were a multimedia presentation, one could almost imagine a laser light and smoke show accompanying this track.

This is the longest song on the album, and one of Interpol’s longest ever. Parts of the song remind the listener of this fact, as it does kind of lag in parts. However, the pre-chorus ascending progression of guitars is entrancing, and the song contains the most incredible and revelatory lyrics of all ten songs on the album.

Again, there is a sense that the narrator is passive-aggressively wooing the object of his affection. He makes promises and proclamations, but accompanies them and covers them up with backhanded compliments and patent slights. Continuing imagery from before is talk of “jail” and a “lion’s cage”. In fact, one of the most incredible similes that doesn’t seem to make any sense at first listen is his “I’m subtle like a lion’s cage”.

It is then somewhat heartbreaking to hear him so blandly juxtapose her shaking it right while also describing that she makes motion when she cries, as if they were both part of the same appeal for him.

Finally, it is particularly interesting to hear him plea for her to “feel the warmth of my sincerity” in what has to be one of the coolest voices ever, surrounded by words containing anything but sincerity. The irony is daggers.

7. “Public Pervert”
This song is a simple and beautiful re-visitation of the themes previously developed on the album. First, the title reminds us of criminality and amorality. Second, the lyrical nature of the song resurrects the maritime imagery set forth before. Finally, the song and its metaphors again find the narrator pleading his case and asking for a life with his love, in as peculiar a way as can be expected at this point.

Again, the guitars building pre-chorus give the song a delightful flavor, and the pseudo-jamming that occurs during the bridge both reminds one of a live performance and presages the sonic nature of the bands following album.

Finally, a telling lyric here comes towards the finale of the song: “in history I’ll treat you right/I’m honest that way”. It’s somewhat cryptic, but it seems that he’s saying that he’s always treated her right, or that as history judges them, it will show that he did, and this is just his sense of honesty. Again, this honesty comes a bit skewed, just like his sincerity.

8. “C’mere”
Another song that feels radio-friendly, or as much as an Interpol song can feel that way. Rightly so, too, as it was the second song from the album to receive airplay, although only across the Atlantic.

Out of context, the lyrics and message of the song are endearing — the narrator professing his love, expressing concerns that it’s not reciprocated, and that instead the object of his affection loves someone else. When taken together with the other songs on the album, however, the intention of the song seems a little more peculiar. The emphasis of the song, upon closer inspection, is on the narrator. It’s a very narcissistic portrait, with lines like “it’s so me” and “it should be me”. Even when he refers to the object of his affection, it’s really just another opportunity to talk about himself and his own feelings.

And so it becomes a little more clear why he should have to plead his case so drastically for a life together with this person whom he claims to love so much. The imagery is all there, yet again, but the latent implications come to the surface a little more.

9. “Length Of Love”
The guitars that begin this track have almost a country-western twang to them, with a loping bassline behind them, and is peculiar especially following the mention of a “rodeo” in the previous song.

In an interview with Pitchfork, Paul Banks raves about the drumming turned in by Sam Fogarino on this track, particularly in regards to the hi-hat. In fact, he almost seems to dare any other drummers out there to try to replicate it, indicating that it’s not for amateurs. This is even more interesting considering that this is the track Fogarino chose to remix for Interpol’s EP of remixes, and it very much does showcase his talents, with the guitars and bass almost serving as a frame for the rest of the song.

Aside from the chorus, which could be mis-heard as “congratulations, removal”, but is actually the more cryptic “combat salacious removal”, the lyrics repeat patterns heard before on the album. Proclamations of everlasting love, imploring her to join him on their journey through life.

This all gets swept up into the music, and the mood, however, since the story at this point seems to be fairly well established, and an invested listener can afford to appreciate the song holistically, rather than searching for metaphors.

10. “A Time To Be So Small”
Another longer, somewhat more sinister sounding version of this song previously appeared on the Precipitate EP. Therefore, even though this serves as a nice conclusion to the album, the tone and content of the song is a little disjointed from the previous nine songs.

Instead, the sound, lyrics, and style of the song fit much better with Interpol’s output pre-Antics. It follows a formula and sonically resembles tracks like “Say Hello To The Angels”, “Stella Was a Diver…”, and “The New” more than it does anything from this album.

As stated, however, it is still a nice closer for the album if one isn’t listening intently for thematic elements, and isn’t familiar with the other, slightly superior version of the song, which has a little more power and intensity that would have provided better closure to such a fantastic piece of art like Antics.

Antics by Interpol

“Next Exit”

“Evil”

“Narc”

“Take You On A Cruise”

“Slow Hands”

“Not Even Jail”

“Public Pervert”

“C’mere”

“Length Of Love”

“A Time To Be So Small”

Turn On The Bright Lights

Turn On The Bright Lights is, to put it bluntly, an astonishing work. There are multiple reasons this album, and Interpol with it, should have faded into obscurity following its 2002 release, yet it has endured as the defining album of post-9/11 America.

Start with the comparisons: Joy Division, the Smiths, the Cure, R.E.M., the Strokes. Then the hype: the release of a series of EPs in the midst of an exploding New York post-punk scene which sent bloggers and music sites, already salivating over the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, into a mouth-foaming frenzy.

Finally the band itself: a quartet of standoffish, self-important East Coast blue-bloods who exude an almost callous indifference to, well, everyone. Upon the eve of the album’s August release, these ingredients concocted the perfect storm for commercial and critical backlash, with the group’s descent back into the sewers of Brooklyn almost certain to follow. Then everyone shut up and listened.

Turn on the Bright Lights is about image. It positively swims in darkness and decadence, self-absorption and anxiety. The band themselves, exuding arrogant superiority in their dark, expensive suits and impossibly cool demeanor, exist in some dark netherworld, a parallel universe where Wall Street rams into a back alley dance club. Accordingly, the album contains forty-nine minutes of quintessential post-punk characterized by lyrics that sound like they were written on a psychologist’s couch, and arrangements that careen to and fro from the chaotic to the serene.

None of these elements would work were it not for the aesthetic quality and consistency of the album, which are executed to near-perfection. Interpol’s dynamic rhythm section (Carlos D. on bass and Sam Fogarino on drums) provides the group’s backbone, driving the album’s deliberate yet unpredictable pace from barely-contained mania to icy calm with seamless grace and fusion. Likewise, the guitars of Daniel Kessler and Paul Banks spend much of the album sparring with sparse calculation, only to occasionally slip into ethereal grandeur (“PDA”), or scorched-Earth malevolence (“The New”).

Banks’ vocals complete the band’s sound, the delivery itself evoking a hollow beauty that coats itself in a chilly, hypnotically cool veneer that cracks ever so slightly to reveal the uncertainty and longing that lie beneath the surface.

The magnificent sum of these parts is a musical struggle between Interpol’s conflicting forces: the band’s projected confidence and invincibility, signified by Kessler’s guitar and Banks’ vocals; and an underlying, emerging anxiety and self-doubt. In fact, Interpol has a literary twin in Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho; Patrick Bateman, the psychopathic, self-obsessed Wall Street executive, faces a similar struggle as he attempts to maintain his flashy image and ultra-cool façade even as he increasingly gives in to his inner feelings of self-doubt and mania.

The fact that Interpol managed to craft such a vivid and powerful persona in Turn on the Bright Lights is testament to their combined abilities while also doubling as an appropriate representation of the gloomy melancholy and vulnerability of post 9/11 America, particularly New York City, with both parties fighting to hold onto their shaken feelings of invincibility and supremacy even as things began to unravel before their very eyes.
Interpol — Turn On The Bright Lights: Track-by-track review

1. “Untitled”
The album’s understated introduction, “Untitled” nearly matches the unorthodox presumptiveness of its name, opening with Daniel Kessler’s ominous, echoing guitar strains. The foreboding, eerie calm is soon shattered, however, by the abrupt intrusion of the rhythm section, with Carlos D.’s bass asserting in particular asserting a blunt cockiness with but a hint of wavering uncertainty.

Finally, Banks enters, cryptically and inaudibly uttering, “Surprise sometimes will come around”, repeating the phrase more and more strongly each time as if to reassure himself, before stating authoritatively:

I will surprise you sometimes
I’ll come around when you’re down.

The song fades lazily from there, both a warm-up and a warning call for the rest of the album.

2. “Obstacle 1”
What exactly is the obstacle in “Obstacle 1”? Does it matter?

Probably not. The song itself is a morose, stream-of-conscious ramble set to intermittent flashes of guitar and almost-playful bass. Fogarino’s insistent drumming is the backdrop, launching the song into its furious chorus amidst Banks’ howls about “stabbing yourself in the neck.”

The track shifts gears for the song’s finale as the guitars take full command, amplifying the anguish behind Banks’ disturbingly pathetic cries that “she put the weights into my little heart.”

3. “NYC”
The band collects itself, at least somewhat, for “NYC”, which catches Banks at his most personal. The rest of the band emits a resigned sense of gloom which hovers around Banks, who lets down his austere guard, relating the depression he holds toward himself and the cold, concrete environment he inhabits.

While much of Banks’ moaning throughout the album feels like it should be met with apathy, this brief breakdown of his outward image strikes as the most sincere. Subsequently, the song’s surprisingly positive shift towards its conclusion, when Banks’ trades his fragility for a sudden burst of resolve with the desperate, powerful boast “It’s up to me now, turn on the bright lights”, remains its most gratifying moment, and one of the standout parts of the album as a whole.

4. “PDA”
The band’s five-minute tour de force.

The most exceptional track on an album seething with them, “PDA” was the song that introduced Interpol to most of the world, and with good reason. Essentially encompassing everything the band represents, the song is Interpol at its best.

Opening with Fogarino’s thunderous percussion, a veritable call to arms, the song dives head-on into a cavernous guitar assault, the single-minded focus and blunt force of the unflinching arrangement hitting the listener like a stampede. It is almost a relief when Banks enters, beginning his attack on an ex-lover:

Yours is the only version of my desertion
That I could ever subscribe to
That is all that I can do

with a nasally, contemptuous enunciation that replaces the awkwardness with menace. As the verse continues, the guitars kick into overdrive, emerging from the rhythm section’s tangled, hypnotic mess only to run headlong into the chorus, instantly transforming the song’s vengeance into sublimity. The circular intonations of “Sleep tight, grim right / We have two hundred couches where you can” invoke an inescapable hopelessness, returning again and again with hypnotic focus.

A slight pause occurs between the chorus and the second verse, the lone gasp of breath the song takes, followed mercilessly by more vengeful anger from Banks, who growls about “resenting a position that is past resentment”. By the second chorus’s conclusion, the song appears to be on its last legs, ready to let the issue go.

Not quite yet. Without taking a breath, Kessler unleashes an insistent sonic riff that instantly takes over the song as the rest of the band abruptly halts. Within moments, the bass joins in, rising to meet the stratospherical arch of the guitar and forming a dynamic fusion which is then met by Banks’ own hesitant accompaniment. The result offers a few moments of blissful optimism, perhaps unmatched on the album, before the bass drops and Fogarino’s drums come crashing back in, culminating in a high-octane final sprint led by Kessler’s soaring guitar.

The song ends with Kessler’s final fading cry, seemingly appearing out of oblivion, moaning with a mix of hope and resignation:

Something to say
Something to do
Nothing to say
Nothing to do

5. “Say Hello To The Angels”
Proof of Interpol’s astonishing ability to lead a song one way only to shift gears without warning in a completely different direction, “Say Hello To The Angels” leads off with a clamoring mix of insistent, shrieking guitars and galloping drums that appear to signal an imminent rock rampage as it climaxes, only to break down into a funky groove driven by Carlos D.’s manic bassline as Banks continues his bitter musings about a broken love life.

At the end of the chorus, the band slows down barely enough to reflect on its own frenetic melancholy before springing into the full-blown panzer attack its opening promised, with Banks delivering the lyrics:

When I’m feeling lazy
It’s probably because
I’m saving all my energy to pick up
When you move into my airspace

at so great a speed its almost cruel to the poor listeners trying to comprehend what he is saying.

Not that there is any time for such contemplation; the chorus’s alarming rate soon begins to let up in increments that morph into relaxed, almost lazy atmospherics, save for the stuttering command of Carlos D. The shift casts the song’s focus on Banks’s soulful assertion, “Baby, baby, you’re the best” before switching back into overdrive over the fearful cries “Can I get there this way?”

Once again, the thumping rock-funk of the first verse returns, this time with an extra dose of frantic desire, before disintegrating finally into a glorious menace, choppy guitar riffs falling into the rhythm section’s chaotic haze, the bass keeping step with Fogarino’s funky staccato before breaking off into a looming glare amid Banks’s understated growling of the title.

6. “Hands Away”
Interpol’s depressing aesthetic reaches a new low on “Hands Away”, which might be one of the weaker songs on the album but remains intriguing nonetheless, if for no other reason than the mood’s uncertain wavering between isolated suffering and melodrama.

Soft, whispering guitar plucks instantly mire in the song in tranquil depression as Banks offers barely audible, and less intelligible lyrics that nonetheless sound like the last words of a man dying a slow, painful death. Fogarino’s drums channels Megan White with knowing simplicity in time to save the song from total despondency, but any hopes of an upbeat turn fade as the minor-key intonations of guitars and synths rise and fall aimlessly. The song’s spare, bleak lyrics add one final damning thought before the song’s frail conclusion:

Homespun desperation’s knowing inside
Your cover’s always blown

…leaving its listeners with the sense they are being led to the gallows, or at least more alone than they had thought.

7. “Obstacle 2”
Difficult to see coming, following the tone Interpol has set in the album’s first half, is “Obstacle 2”, which shares no apparent qualities with “Obstacle 1” other than a) It’s about a girl, and b) Interpol wrote it.

The song also answers a few questions: Is Banks capable of writing lyrics about a positive relationship with a girl? Yes. Is Banks capable of writing nauseatingly, cheesy, yet still incoherent lyrics about a positive relationship with a girl? Most definitely.

The song starts with a sense of immediacy as Banks abruptly articulates sweet nothings to his girl over guitar that sounds suitably flirtatious. The entrance of Carlos D.’s booming bass, which becomes more and more of an attention-whore throughout the album, complemented by Fogarino’s skillful background accompaniment, creates a cautiously optimistic palette on which Banks can showcase his rambling, Hallmark-card worthy musings.

A hushed interlude interjects to add playful suspense, followed by a lurch into the song’s chorus, which staggers into a haphazard emulation of the verse, as Banks’s inarticulate vocals murmur something about standing “by all this drinking if it helps me through these days”, the music itself acting as Bank’s interior monologue as he drunkenly divulges his passions at some posh downtown party around four in the morning.

The remainder of the song features more of the same until the band can keep up the dopey façade no longer, almost pathologically slipping into an intense Manhattanite Mr. Hyde. Carlos D.’s bass, at first in the background, forces itself upon the listener as Banks oohs longingly and Kessler’s guitar chimes righteously, the bullying conclusion pushing the listeners into a corner whereas moments before the song only wanted to take them to bed.

8. “Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down”
Interpol must take deranged joy in the naming of their song titles, which combined are at once vaguely offensive, confusing, and hilarious. Similarly, there is simply neither need nor reason for the drum count-off and literal introduction (“This one’s called ‘Stella Was a Diver And She Was Always Down'”) in “Stella”; the whole thing just works.

Kessler’s guitars ring with auspicious concern, quickly overwhelming any second thoughts about the opening, and are soon matched by Kessler’s furious drumming and vocals about a mysterious, conceited, no doubt gorgeous girl absolutely convinced that everyone in New York City notices her when she passes. The bass enters soon enough, intermittently slicing through the gloomy fog of the verse and momentarily ceasing Banks’s moaning, but then the guitars start gathering and rise like a tidal wave over the listener, eventually crashing down on Banks’s fitted cries with total domination.

The vocals, drowned for a second by this unchecked march, soon resurface to proclaim “She broke away, broke away!” as if they were announcing the end of the world, and at this point it becomes clear that we are dealing with another ex-lover. The process then repeats, but this time Banks’s subjective observations give way to untangling longing, emoting at the second verse’s end the bitter truth Banks has been unable to face:

Stella I love you!

The wrathful chorus returns, the cries of “She broke away, broke away!” repeating themselves an extra time as the inescapable truth enfolds Banks. After this physical battery/release, the song nearly dies; the lone, suspended mourning of Kessler’s guitar hangs on by a thread, as if unsure whether or not to continue, until a stubborn bass line affirms the need for more soul-cleansing.

As the song dejectedly limps along to its finale, Banks, seemingly pulled-together, manages to admit:

Well, she was my catatonic sex toy
Love-joy diver
She went down down
Down there into the sea
Yeah she went down, down, down there
Down there for me
Right on

The song’s meandering end comes soon thereafter, but not before Banks chokingly whispers his final desperate pleas to his subject as the music fades out.

9. “Roland”
While “Stella’s” intriguingly-named topic revealed herself to be little more than another of Banks’s endless series of heartbreaking female associates, the man in “Roland’s” title comes from a more ominous part of his mind.

Kessler’s guitar twangs obtusely to begin the song, slowing down so Banks can urge “C’mon, c’mon”, his command followed with rapt immediacy by Carlos D.’s peppy bass lines and equally willing accompanying guitar. The vicious, jungle-beat entrance of Fogarino’s drums quickly sends the song devolving into appropriately macabre theatre as Banks takes on the role of storyteller, beginning his tale with the clever insinuations of:

“My best friend’s a butcher
He has sixteen knives
He carries them all over the town
At least he tries

As the explicit content of the story emerges in Banks’s details, the arrangement veers into a positively maniacal chorus, Banks himself gleefully shouting:

“He severed segments secretly
You like that
He always took the time to speak with me
I liked him for that

The song becomes even more disconcerting once the underlying implications of Banks’s tale offer the ghastly revelation that Banks is, in fact, Roland, suggesting his own dual personalities and inner bloodlust. The song’s vocal production, slightly skewed to make Banks himself sound somewhat off, confirm the evil whimsy, and the scorching, sonic abandonment in the climactic guitar solo concludes the song with an exclamation point scratched in blood.

10. “The New”
“The New” starts out as Interpol’s attempt at redemption, peaceful contentment, and enduring happiness, so the listener knows it’s doomed to fail before Banks is halfway through the first verse.

After the exhausting pace set by the last two songs, the placid, occasional piano reverberations and tired, contemplating guitar strums are more or less a necessity. Banks himself seems worn out when he sighs:

I wish I could live free
I hope it’s not beyond me
Settling down, it takes time
One day we’ll live together and life will be better
I have it here, yeah in my mind

The hopefulness of such thoughts appears genuine, but the certainty of success at once appears in doubt as the lines hover over lurking, understated rhythm section. Unsurprisingly, Banks’s inner anguish and doubt manifest themselves shortly thereafter in the actually sympathetic line, “Baby, my heart’s been breaking”, the first cracks in Banks’s crumbling shell of self-control and outward cool, which falls apart amidst lines such as:

I can’t pretend I need to defend
Some part of me from you
I know I’ve spent some time all lying

Wrecked and lost, having struggled for far too long, Banks and the group let the melancholy ease quietly dissipate into quiet, ambivalent guitar strains and unobtrusive rhythm. The mood of the song and fate of Banks, his attempt to relate to the ambiguous audience having fallen by the wayside, for the briefest time, hang in the balance. Then it succumbs.

The rhythm section kicks in with solitary notes of dual menace struck twice, then twice again, then twice again as the guitar warms up for its inevitable clash. First the bass, then the guitar, and finally the entire group mutates into a vengeful blitzkrieg suggesting the loss of total control in its persona, then to the rescue comes Banks, shouting above the fray in sheer desperation, “You’re looking alright tonight, I think we should go!”

But the battle continues momentarily only to rest with a shudder, rev back up, then fade in exhaustion with only wounded guitar chords left standing, signifying perhaps Banks’s victory over the monster inside of him.

11. “Leif Erikson”
Like its title suggests, “Leif Erikson” is as serene as a boat ride through the glacial arctic, its relaxed confidence echoing in the reassured strains of Kessler’s opening guitar. When Banks and the rhythm section enter at once, there lacks the usual precipitous juxtaposition of chaos and cool; rather, the entire band is in sync at this point, demonstrating an invigorated veneer of icy composure, which may or may not be nothing more than the superficial makeup it was earlier in the song.

Rather than reform himself, Banks seems content merely to be back to his presentable self, his thoughts expressed in lyrics completely devoid of empathy or even emotion itself. Even when referring to the current relationship he appears to be enjoying, Banks’s lyrics are vain and indifferent to anyone but himself:

She feels that my sentimental side
Should be held with kids gloves
But she doesn’t know that I left my urge in the icebox

The rhythm remains untypically stoic throughout the song, delineating very little from its original course in complete concentration as the guitars harmonize in a tone that is not quite pleasant.

Nonetheless, Banks seems mildly pleased with his current status, and the group seems to assert a new control over itself that still fails to be completely convincing, with Banks’s final line on the album acting almost as an explanation for what has just taken place, intoning “My love’s subliminal”, almost hoping that saying it makes it true, even though the rest of the immaculate Turn On The Bright Lights suggests a very different story.

Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol

“Untitled”

“Obstacle 1”

“NYC”

“PDA”

“Say Hello To The Angels”

“Hands Away”

“Obstacle 2”

“Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down”

“Roland”

“The New”

“Leif Erikson”