Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
I approached this album in an effort I have started over winter break to move towards the past in my musical appreciation. I am vested in the current but lack a presidence for judgement. I saw this in the top 10 of the readers poll of best albums between 1995-2010. I also saw it in the top 4 albums of a musician I know personally.
Interpol was a group from NYC, comprised of two NYU students and a friend. The band pre "Turn on the Bright Lights" release had gained a large amount of hype due to the present music blog scene and participation in the NYC indie music scene for a couple years. "Turn on the Bright Lights" is the groups debut album and arguably their best. The album sees musical similarities to post-punk revivalists Joy Division but in performance and style Interpol seperated them self incorporating a more theatrical atmosphere with lush production and flashy clothes and rock star attitude despite their frustrated bombast.
Upon first listen through, I was not impressed and was confused about the praise of the album. I know music is not appreciable in a first listen sometimes so I gave it a couple more attempts. In these further attempts some songs began to stick out. The intro "Untitled" starts the album with a calm echo drenched guitar melody and dreary bass line before a simple drum and snare is added. This melody continues then some rising arpeggiated riffs and the soft-spoken words of Paul Banks enter speaking of "surprise, sometimes." The album continued strong with "Obstacle 1" then a song from their self titled EP "NYC" which I find to be the most accessible song on the album. The song sits as an Ode to the city and the help it has given him. The line "it's up to me, turn on the bright lights" stands as an obvious title source but also in opposition to the idea the NYC can sometimes control your fate. The album is strong throughout muttering themes of emotional relentlessness and despite the bleak sound, feels optimistic and uplifting.