Turn On the Bright Lights (The Tenth Anniversary Edition - 2012 Remaster)

Turn On the Bright Lights (The Tenth Anniversary Edition - 2012 Remaster)

Interpol emerged in the early 2000s with a fully formed aesthetic, albeit one indebted to the post-punk canon—the dour gothic brutalism of Joy Division and Bauhaus crossed with the melodramatic romanticism of Echo & The Bunnymen and The Cure. The broad strokes of their sound may be familiar, but their distinctive personality comes through in the details, like Sam Fogarino’s intricate-yet-forceful drumming and the often baffling lyricism of singer Paul Banks. Their debut album, Turn On the Bright Lights, was greeted as an instant classic upon its release in the summer of 2002. The timing was perfect—their strict dress code of all-black suits set them up to be perceived as upscale rivals of the leather jacket-clad Strokes; they arrived just as the post-punk revival was taking off; and the bleak and stately ballad “NYC” tapped into a post-9/11 sentimentality for New York City, even if no one really knew what “the subway is a porno” was supposed to mean. It’s a record that feels both timeless and rooted in a very specific moment, a window into a debauched turn-of-the-21st-century Manhattan full of young women whose stories are “boring and stuff,” friends who “don’t waste wine when there’s words to sell,” and there are always 200 couches where you can sleep tight and/or have a “grim rite.” The best songs on Bright Lights bring both a wild-hair urgency and understated sophistication to music that may otherwise feel overly cold and aloof. “PDA” seems to blast forward like a cannonball, but is sweetened by the plaintive tone of Daniel Kessler’s treble-heavy lead guitar. “Obstacle 1” has a similar forward momentum, but the twitchy rhythm of the guitar is complemented by the subtle swing of Fogarino’s constantly shifting percussion. “Obstacle 2” and “The New” both benefit from the melodic undertow of Carlos D’s bass, which nudges the songs toward a majestic melancholy that’s more glamorous than sad sack.

Disc 1

Disc 2

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