You should have already heard of Interpol, a four piece band from the indie New York Scene, who came to prominence in 2002 with their debut album “Turn On The Bright Lights”. That’s right, Interpol the band, not INTERPOL the ‘cloak and dagger’ government agency. Call them mod rockers, call them brit pop, call them post punk, call them what you want, but one thing’s for sure – rock was back to reign supreme.
I first came to hear about Interpol in 2004 with the release of their sophomore album “Antics”. At the time I was in film school, 21 years old with an ego that was wildly out of check due to the fact that I worked on a couple of music clips professionally, not to mention the countless short films where I was “the man” on set and was getting a small fee for it. But in reality I was ridiculously poor and couch surfing through the dodgy neighborhood of Footscray. How I love that town and all the friends I have there, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I really haven’t stopped couch surfing but the end is nigh.
So for all these films I was on the road a lot and usually with my best friend Jake, whose house I used as a crash pad in return for transport and cheap labor. This was also the first and last time I owned an Ipod, a hard lesson learned to leave all my earthly possessions in a car to get stolen (It happened more than once.). But I digress. What I’m getting to is that it was Jake who introduced me to Interpol. He had recently bought the album and we would rock out to it in our regular sojourns. Jake was obsessed with Evil which was a big single for them and also a good example of their sound, bass driven with crisp snare-y drums, sparse riffs but a real expressive finger picked lead guitar that harmonizes with the vocals.
Jake would love to tell me he thought this song was about masturbating. Pointing out lyrics “you’re coming with me”, “it’s the smiling on the package”, “it’s that thought that moves you upwards/embracing me with two hands”, “your pleasure’s set/ upon slow release”, “you’re weightless, semi erotic” and of course he loved “why can’t we look the other way?”. I aint completely sure but I am kinda certain that this is a tale of love and heartache, not masturbating.
But there is something to Interpol that definitely lends itself to themes of sex and love. Almost all their songs seem to deal with these themes whether they come across as dark tales of heartbreak or sleazy seductive confessionals by modern day Lotharios. You only have to look at other singles from Antics like
Narc a song that starts with the lyric “Touch your thighs I’m the lonely one”. It is a song told by a man on his knees as he begs a woman to love him. Then there is the most successful single from this album
C’mere , it’s success may have to do with the context of this song being one of the most universal stories in existence – one where you are in love with someone and they are in love with someone else “you’re in love with someone else/ it should be me”. I could almost list every song on this album, see also
Slow Hands Public Pervert .
Our Love To Admire
I actually didn’t become obsessed with Interpol until the release of “Our Love to Admire”. In my aforementioned tale of rocking out to “Antics” in the car with Jake, I didn’t mention that I only really rocked out to it because I was too lazy to change the album. At the time I was probably listening to more Mars Volta and Peaches, and “Antics” got benched quite quickly as I lost the CD somewhere in the car for a couple of years.
But then came the release of their new album and continual airplay on Triple J and it stood out and stuck in my mind until I went out and bought it. I played “Our Love To Admire” to death, and it gradually became one of my favorite albums. I even took it into several of the trucks I would make runs in while I was at work. From the opening
Pioneer to The Falls until the conclusive
The Lighthouse I find this a captivating album and a brilliant example of the works of Interpol. Their signature sound is at its best, simple but always expressive complementing Paul Banks’ vocals and lyrics.
Yeah, Interpol is a band that you could say sound the same song to song, album to album but they do their thing brilliantly well. Good music never goes astray.
Favorite songs on this album are abundant:
No I in Threesome The Heinrich Maneuver and Mammoth These were all released as singles and made the album quite popular
Rest My Chemistry http://cdn3.libsyn.com/mikewentwest/08_Rest_My_Chemistry.mp3?nvb=20090427104022&nva=20090428105022&t=00040bb2fcc0bed0a1b8f is also a big standout – its expressiveness never fails to move me.
My favorite thing about Interpol is that there sound to me seems to display a restrained violence. Like being outwardly emotionless but inside your soul is screaming.
Wrecking Ball is a good example. Jake and I both had a vision for a music clip for this track that would just feature someone smashing things in slow motion, think of the shot at the end of “Pirates of the Caribean 3” as the evil Lord Cutler Beckett in defeat descends the staircase of the Dutch East India Trading Co. ship as it gets blown to smithereens. See also the new music clip by Spike Jonze for U.N.K.L.E “Heaven” where skateboarders travel in slow motion and things blow up. When shot in slow motion destruction takes on an austere beauty.
That austere beauty is what Interpol is for me. If you like dark and moody music that doesn’t make you feel suicidal but strangely empowered, check Interpol out (also, I’d like to make mention of their music clips because they are also quite good. Like “Evil” displaying a car crash with a puppet singing and “The Heinrich Maneuver” which features ultra slow motion).