Turn On the Bright Lights
(Matador OLE 545)

At last, a CD that the hipster media likes that you can actually believe them about. Interpol's Turn On the Bright Lights is great 1979-by-way-of-2002 rock, more ambitious (and better) than the Strokes, singing out a grim urban existence with a glimmer of hope.

They don't sound like Joy Division so much as reanimate Joy Division – unbottling the frantic energy of that band and using it for something all their own. If you need a sonic point of reference, there's more early Echo & the Bunnymen and Cure than anything else. But the more I listen, the more distinctive it sounds – it's Interpol.

Confident, tight, and solitary, these songs come at you kind of nervously and engage you in increasingly fascinating conversation. You know that you'll need to excuse yourself at some point to get away from the downer element of it all and go have a smoke, but this is hardly one of those CD's that comes on gregariously and reveals its shallowness early on. Interpol don't want you to love them, they want you to get them.

The lyrics are bold and intriguing, the sound is relentless and assured. These guys can probably become U2 if they can sharpen up the songwriting. Or maybe it's good that they stay Interpol.

The opening track ("Untitled") is the best opening track I've heard on a rock album since Disintegration, "NYC" is gorgeous in a way American bands tend never to be, "PDA" is CRAZY addictive. The disc goes on a tad long with some of it blending together, and your enjoyment of it totally depends on your affinity for the lead singer, who is so warble-whiny in spots you begin to think he's a grad school TA.

Hype aside, this is a good album, a serious album, by any measure. It's certainly a better debut than people seem to be allowed to make in the current music industry.

Review by Brina