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Artist: Interpol                             Release Date: August 20, 2002
Label: Matador Records               Running time: 49 min.

Samuel Fogarino : drums
Daniel Kessler : guitar
Carlos Dengler : bass and keyboards
Paul Banks : vocals and guitar
Album recorded & mixed November 2001
Arranged, Engineered & Mixed by Peter Katis, Gareth Jones and Greg Calbi
Background :

Interpol prove themselves to be men on a mission to take us back to a time when long faces and even longer overcoats were de rigueur... ~ Playlouder
And? Said like it was a bad thing… anyway, this is a group of musicians who certainly rise above miserablism. The origins of Interpol can be traced back to a NYU student Daniel Kessler (a Brooklyn guitarist and vocalist), his friendship with another student, Carlos Dengler, who’d once played guitar in a high school band and, finally, a drummer named Greg. That was four years ago, and 'the scene' in NYC, like everything else, was very different in 1998. Kessler later bumped into Paul Banks, a guitarist/vocalist he knew from time spent in France. And so the band was founded. The original line-up of the band was Greg (drums), Daniel on guitar, Paul on vox and guitar, and Carlos on bass. For two years, they worked away in the city’s shadowy rental rehearsal spaces, picking up on ideas and song sections. Early in the new millennium, they felt ready to take the stage…

It didn’t run exactly like clockwork though. After the band's first gigs in early 2000, Greg vacated, and was replaced by Sam Fogarino (who Daniel knew threw a local record store). Regular appearances at NY clubs like Brownie's, Bowery Ballroom and the Mercury Lounge set them up as aggressively-styled and ambitious. Throughout 2000 and 2001 they opened for And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead and Arab Strap. Interpol’s first release trailed at the end of 2000 and hit regular rotation on London’s XFM. In April 2001, Interpol played in Glasgow, Manchester, and London, complete with John Peel Session for the BBC. Matador signed the band in 2002 and a three-song single and the band's debut. NY shows are slated for Dec. Thursday 19 - Saturday 21st, 2002, New York, NY Bowery Ballroom. For other dates, tunes and video, see http://www.matadorrecords.com/interpol/

Would I put it on at a party? How does it rock?

If I like them because they remind me of eating bad bathtub mescaline in the woods and listening to Cure singles, well, that'll do. You might like them for completely different reasons. ~ Village Voice
Ab. So. Lutely: I can see you all now in your best punk suits (three button, thin lapel, narrowest tie) or your finest Debbie Harry gowns, with dark sunglasses, against chrome fixtures, after gallery showing in a spacious flat, dressed to kill. You and everyone in the room knows Digital rocks, and are content in being among friends. This record works on just about every possible level you need to get folks riled, so if you’re planning anything for later in the evening, be sure it’s energetic. Robbing banks maybe...

What’s it sound like though?

There are moments here of Starfish, Ocean Rain, Unknown Pleasures surely, that’s not in question. But I think the record manages to rise above those influences, even as it is cut from seriously quality cloth. There is something passionately dramatic about the melodies which, all styling and aesthetics aside, ring deeply true. There are some frantic moments here and there, with some very oddly claustrophobic undertones lurking around the corners, but it makes for some remarkably entertaining songs. They lurch and shriek across the stage, close-quarter pyrotechnics, but never get so entirely chaotic that the hooks and harmony come crashing down. That is the sign of even more interesting things to come…

Anything else I need to know?

Gareth Jones has mixed & produced albums for the likes of Wire, Depeche Mode, Diamanda Galas, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Can, Clinic and Neubauten, in case there was any mystery about where the influences may’ve arisen from …

Say, for the sake of argument, I love the record? What else might I try?

Well, if you liked this outfit, first thing I’ll do is warn you off Ladytron, who also seem to be angling after this niche but aren’t nearly as endearing. Then I’m going to say get yourself some early Joy Division and The Cure, mid-career Echo and the Bunnymen and the Church, and maybe some later Bauhaus and Wire … but you probably already have those. In which case, my recommendations run into the more obscure and trickier to get: namely, Breathless' LP Three Times and Waving(1986) or Chasing Promises (1988) – Dominic Appleton, once you get over his tenor, is just as much a progenitor to this band as McCullough or Curtis.
The Songs:
1. Untitled - 3:56 ~ A pounding, reverberating, we’ve got the amps dragged into an aircraft hanger and turned up to 11 opener. It’s a theatrical, methodical, forlorn manifesto – “I’ll surprise you / sometime / and come around” – complete with klaxon guitars, megaphone vocals, and vaguely 1984 atmosphere (albeit more Sisters of Mercy than Ministry of Truth). ~
2. Obstacle 1 - 4:11 ~ Riveting material. Pointy shiny shoes, long wool trench coats, big mirrored sunglasses, too much caffeine and overlong bangs – it’s all back in (as if it was ever out) and this here’s the rallying cry. Grab the kohl and get to it. ~
3. NYC - 4:19 ~ Appropriately enough, this symphonic track is the album’s clincher, a lonely bittersweet serenade to life and love in a deeply troubled city – “I had seven faces / thought I knew which one to wear / sick of spending these lonely nights / training myself not to care” - If you can somehow manage to get through its over-the-top, self-reliant McCullough-like swoon without smirking with glee, then time to more on. This record’s not your thing ~
4. PDA - 4:59~ Turning now more towards the horizon of sparse, existential post-punk - “You’re the only person / whose completely certain / that there’s nothing here to be in to…” - this track seems to have been chosen as the single: it has a killer guitar/bass line about three minutes up that should shore up a few zillion megawatts of radio play ~
5. Say Hello to the Angels - 4:28~ Sounds, god help me, like the Strokes without their injections, covering early Wire … the bass line here is amazing, the lyrics amusingly delivered, but it’s a wee bit too pastiche. The one track that they should lose. ~
6. Hands Away - 3:05~ New wave, proto-goth wailing, a la Clan of Xymox or Japan (yum!) ~
7. Obstacle 2 - 3:47~ By all rights, this should have been the single. Absolutely deadpan distant vocal styling, trapped below the surface icy, bound up emotive vocals - “it takes a long time / just to get this frustrated” – complete with a howling at the moon, oh my heart is breaking wrap-up. Ian Curtis is somewhere, smiling gladly to see he’s made an impression… ~
8. Stella Was A Diver and She Was Always Down - 6:27~ Just outright fuct up, inexplicable in text ~
9. Roland - 3:35~ Visceral power pop, up there with the loudest Husker Du or Pixies, with some great nonsense lines - “Oh look! It stopped snowing …” – frenetic, frantic and menacing. Glacially sweet. ~
10. The New - 6:07~ This ballad is a little posed than the other love songs – “I can’t pretend / I need to defend / Some part of me from you” - and sounds a bit more like Modest Mouse reinterpreting a Church single (that will either pique your interest, or it won’t). This isn’t to say it's quiet, as the bass line ratchets up, we hear there’s a little more than just fear and frustration going on. Over the course of the song, the listener is dragged along a roller-coaster of dysfunction. Fantastic songwriting, a singular bit of work. ~
11. Leif Erikson - 4:00~ A murky, maudlin, smoke-hazy ballad done in a howling, baritone growl - “She doesn’t know that I left my urge in the icebox / she swears I’m prey for the females” – wrapping up the record on an exquisite note.~

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