Interpol: 15 years of Turn On The Bright Lights

15 years ago today, amid the drug-addled has of the garage rock revival of the early ‘00s, Interpol rose from the streets of New York City with their debut album, Turn On The Bright Lights. While superlative statements get flippantly thrown around about certain albums, it is without a doubt a masterpiece. Looking back on it today and the copycats that followed in its wake, Turn On The Bright Lights still feels like a milestone in contemporary music.

Carried by the looming basslines of Carlos D, the album cruises through Paul Banks’ late-night tales of love, loss, and the uncertainty of a post 9/11 world. Obstacle 1 has all the trademarks of vintage post-punk repetition, Say Hello To Angels and NYC are haunting, mournful trips, while Stella Was a Diver and She’s Always Down is peppered with rock ‘n’ roll swagger. It culminates with the brooding track, Leif Erikson, which is arguably their finest hour.

Released on the cooler than cool Matador Records, a label that rarely releases bad records, Turn On The Bright Lights was a critical success, yet considering its influence, failed to chart on both sides of the Atlantic. It would take word of mouth, and Interpol’s incendiary live show for them to gradually gain the attention it deserved. The influence of the album can be heard in early work by The Editors, and even The Killers cite it is one of their biggest inspirations.

After 15 years, five albums, and several line-up changes Interpol have expanded their sound with each release but their poignant debut remains their finest hour. They are currently celebrating the anniversary of Turn On The Bright Lights with a European tour that hits the UK at the start of September.

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