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Turn On The Bright Lights

by Interpol

Released August 19, 2002 via Matador Records

Reviewed August 10, 2022

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Stella was a diver and she was always down (56%), Obstacle 1 (44%), PDA (41%)

Dragging you down in a lumbered state, the Interpol collective sing out like sirens on the shore. New York City sirens, to be precise. Turn On the Bright Lights is an album of special, clinical quality. The grooves found here are next level. They'll seduce you, use you, abuse you, and confuse you. At the end of the day, they'll give back more than they take. It's a worthy trade off. Few albums manage to re-invent groove itself. Born out of denial and disappointment, it deals in dreams, and often swallows them alive. Leaky roofs, damp walls, lived-on couches, and soaking wet carpets comfort those born from misshapen roots. Their seeds drain the earth of all it has to give. The scent of half sunken cigarettes sticks to the psyche in more ways than one. It hovers around for an eternity like low hanging fruit. Reminders of days gone by linger and lactate from vines of desperation. The drudgery of everyday existence can't be skipped, fast forward brings you straight back to square one. – Peter (9.5/10)

Alongside acts such as The Strokes and The National—among others—Interpol were a dominant force in both the NYC music scene and the larger scene of 2000s indie rock. More specifically, the “post-punk revival” movement that really took off shortly after the turn of the century is in large part to the success of the band’s debut, Turn On the Bright Lights. It’s a unique instance of a band showing their influences on their sleeves, while simultaneously establishing themselves as progenitors of something fresh. Like a smorgasbord of 80s and 90s greats, Interpol piece together sleek and melodic basslines (a la Peter Hook), harmonious and textured guitar interplay between the lead and rhythm (see: MBV or The Cure), and detached but commanding vocals (essentially post-punk’s calling card) in conjunction with a modernized, peppier bounce. It’d be an uphill battle trying to argue that Interpol does any of these single elements better than their influences, but the combination of each makes the sound of Turn On the Bright Lights greater than its parts. The songwriting is equally disconnected, bearing a sense of regret and desolation that rang especially true in the post-9/11 NYC that was still facing the fallout of the previous year’s events. But don’t let anyone trick you into believing this record is just a product of its time; 20 years removed, Turn On the Bright Lights has moments where it feels outdated, but more so because the next decade plus saw countless indie bands attempt to replicate just what Interpol did on their debut—which might be the biggest testament of all to its longstanding impact that can still be heard today. – Dominick (8.8/10)

Peter: 9.5/10 | Dominick: 8.8/10 | Cam: 8/10 | DeVán: 7/10 | Jared: 5/10

Community Reviews:

An explosive and emotional post-punk revivalist art piece. Interpol burst onto the indie scene with this record which led to the band's constant Joy Division comparisons due to the LP's post-punk roots, alongside the similar vocal and writing style that Banks spiritually inherits from the late Curtis. The album also shares the ability to construct a dim, dark world for its listener with its instrumentation and soundscape. What makes the record stand out however is the brief yet surprising glimpses of hope and humour which links to the album's titular "Bright Lights." A quintessential post-punk album that deserves its association with words such as "perfection." – @tylerwilliam.s (9.5/10)


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