Interpol: Turn On The Bright Lights

New York art rockers' bleak debut...

When it comes to comebacks, only Elvis can match The Dark. If 2001 saw American bands tapping local heritage from Detroit to NYC, this year a grey-skinned British past is being dragged back the light. Dark angel Anglophiles Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have already made the journey and now come the half-British, New York-based Interpol to draw the curtains, dim the lights and tear into the bunker-reserves of paranoia, lust and fear that fuel this intriguing debut.

Forget the New York state of mind: Interpol have crossed county lines into new, distinctly Mancunian territory. The electroclash ’80s have no place here – except maybe as a party heard through a thin and depressing partition wall. The already inevitable Joy Division comparisons are obvious and unmistakable, airbourne in the ashen atmospherics, Paul Bank’s earth-to-earth voice and guitars so chokingly dense they should have a clean air order slapped on them. Yet The Smiths also lurk in the rugged rhythms and the clinical vocal deadpan. [I]”This is the only version of my desertion that I will ever subscribe to”[/I] yelps Banks on the cryptic tickertape spool of ‘PDA’, which is Morrissey-rhyming of an almost comical order – while ‘Say Hello To The Angels’ takes a punctured bicycle on a hillside desolate and customises it into a streamlined motoring machine.

Admittedly, there are times when all the bomb-age portent makes you feel like wearing a ‘nuclear power – nein danke’ badge but they make it okay even when – as on ‘Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down’ – the gloom threatens to become gauche. It could be as warm and emotionally satisfying as a hug from a piece of industrial cutting machinery but Interpol temper this album with real atmospheric sadness: the guitar sunspots that flare through ‘Untitled’; the echo and ache of ‘Leif Erikson’; the way the magnificent ‘NYC’ brings on the dancing horses for a slow sad waltz through the city’s sickness; the snap-shut metal box clang of ‘Obstacle 1’.

Through all those years of bad irony and blank angst, The Dark’s vital signs have kept strong. With ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’, Interpol interpret them perfectly for these new and exciting times.

Victoria Segal