Albums of our time: Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights


When it comes to debut albums, one must admit how influential and important Interpol’s Turn On The Bright Lights was, not only to those who heard it in 2002 but for those who still hear it to this very day.

Turn on the Bright Lights

It is important to note the album’s significant importance to the New York Rock Revival.

Along with fellow bands The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, many others emerged and attracted listeners to what was happening in the music scene at the time.

It’s also important to look at how impactful the album was to the city itself.

Released just a year after the 9/11 attacks, the album’s music reflects a dark and brooding feeling that many New Yorkers must have felt.

However, it contrasts itself with a sense of hope and good-will added something that made the music broader than anyone else.

While taking cues from pioneering acts like Joy Division, The Smiths and many others you can hear that sound being reflected to the band.

What makes Interpol a band that is unique sonically and stylistically (and not just in the fashion-sense) is that each member brings something special that stands them apart from say their more pop-orientated bretheren The Strokes. Whether it be the vocals of Paul Banks, a haunting tribute to Ian Curtis and one that helps make each song brilliant and worth listening. On singles like Obstacle 1 or PDA, the vocal tracks sticks to you until the very end.

In comparison, the guitar work of lead guitarist Daniel Kessler also helps the album, providing it with tone and feeling, complimenting the vocals of Banks. Whether it be the opening track Untitled or one of my personal favourites NYC, this helps pull together what could easily be described as the heart of Interpol.

But what drives the heart of the band is the soul and that comes from the now retired bassist Carlos Dengler and the underrated Sam Fogarino on drums. The pair bring harmony and post-punk essence to the record and it’s felt throughout.

While it is now known to many Interpol fans that Dengler wanted the record to be called Celebrated Bass Lines of the Future (a name I approve of for my bias love the instrument), tracks like The New showcase what Carlos gave to the band, not only in his bass playing, but through his keyboard work which brings songs like Say Hello To The Angels and Leif Erikson to life with an atmospheric vibe but a glimmer of hope as well.

It’s easy to say Interpol brought back a more gloomy approached to guitar music with their debut. Rather than thinking that it’s important to appreciate how they were the reflection of the very city they formed in and loved.

Hearing bands like The Killers and The Editors reveal their love for the band is a nod to the impact they conjured and delivering an album that is still just as influential as it was when it first came out over 15 years ago.


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