Record Review

Phases and Stages


Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador) The musical recycle from 25 years ago has finally made its way to the edge of the Eighties, from the southern Zeppelinism of the White Stripes and the fun-but-empty Television conjure of the Strokes, to the edgy emotional juggernaut that was post-punk and that era's flagship band, Joy Division. This is Interpol, and their robe is cut from cloth that matters: melodic Peter Hook-like basslines; the divine shoegazer textures of My Bloody Valentine and Ride; a peppy, Strokes-like bounce; and a singer who's a dead ringer for Ian Curtis. Lines like "stabbing yourself in the neck" on the turbo-charged "Obstacle 1" take frontman Paul Banks uncomfortably close to Curtis-impersonator territory, but the qualified romanticism of hometown paean "NYC," looming over an ethereal backdrop of urban desolation, proves Interpol is as much style as Substance. The clincher is the transcendent "PDA," a transmission straight from Curtis & Co. circa 1978 that finds a voice of its own. Where Curtis urged us to dance, dance, dance to the radio, Banks tells us to "Sleep tight, grim rite, we have 200 couches where you can sleep tonight." "PDA" dramatically climaxes on a shimmering double helix that marries the band's JD atmospherics with their ability to coax a sparkling sonic valentine out of their instruments at all times. Interpol: the true 24-hour party people. (Interpol plays the Mercury, Sunday, Sept. 22.)


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