Turn on the Bright Lights

I think it is strange that the final impetus for starting this blog up is an album that I have not been able to finish, Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights. I have not been able to finish it for a couple of reasons. The first reason is the same reason that I do not finish many albums; I tend to listen to music on my commute to and from work, a commute that takes about thirty minutes, slightly shorter than most conventional music compilations. Compounded by that fact that if I enjoy an album I usually get hooked on one of the first few songs so I will always start from there thus never reaching the end in the allotted commuting time.

The second reason I have not been able to finish is because this is the most emotionally tense album I have ever listened to. As soon as the first effect laden note on the guitar is struck on track one, ‘Untitled’, my stomach starts to turn into knots and I feel an impending sense of confusion and discomfort wash over me. After three or four tracks of this emotional upheaval I usually can’t take it anymore. When the drums and bass come in as the guitars layer and swirl and the lyric “I will surprise you sometime, I’ll come around” is repeated multiple times I get pulled into the music, waiting and hoping for the moment when the song builds and then explodes. However the surprise never comes, the release never happens.

The second song ‘Obstacle 1’ picks up the tempo, makes you think that maybe we are going to work out what is bothering us so much, but is only a lead in to the best, most confused, track on the album ‘NYC’. This is Interpol’s song of affection to the city they love; the city that they can’t live with like it is (“I know you’ve supported me for a long time, somehow I’m not impressed”) and don’t know how to change, but change it they must (“It’s up to me now, turn on the bright lights”).

After this track I usually lose concentration and forget to pay attention to the rest of the album. Maybe I need to reassure myself that life is worth living or something or maybe I am still struggling to grasp what the previous three songs really mean.

Many people have compared Interpol to Joy Division but I don’t really see it. Joy Division always seemed to me to be very disjointed and choppy, keeping us apart from the music, contemplating it from the outside, whereas Interpol is very grandiose, always soaring around and through us making us feel the music by becoming a part of it. I think that they are both dealing with the same emotions in a very different way and people feel that connection which is why the two bands are linked together.

I know this is a great album. Pitchfork.com rated it the number one album of the year in 2002 and it beat out Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, an album that I cherish and admire and would recommend to everyone. I am pretty certain I recommend this album too. I think that there are some great songs past track three; in fact I’m sure of it because I have listened through track eight (which is the point when I arrive home from work). I just have not connected with them as I have to the first three tracks.


About themusicandtheart

New Hampshire resident with interests in music, literature, films and baseball.
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One Response to Turn on the Bright Lights

  1. gamgee464 says:

    awesome post. i’d HIGHLY recommend listening to the rest of it. granted, the first few tracks are the best, but “Leif Erikson” is a gem hidden at the end of the album. with this song, Interpol seems to be aware of the exhaustion the listener would naturally feel from this album, and has respect for it. however, “Lief Erikson” also gives no relief. i don’t think Interpol is in the business of relief. 😉

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