And after a month of heaviness, we’re back to our usual well-rounded posts. Sometimes a band makes an album so good they end up only disappointing first album fans with follow up records that don’t quite capture the attitude and spirit of the previous album or albums. In the case of NYC’s blend of post punk rock band Interpol, it kind of depends on who you ask. Some think all of their albums are further examples of a changing style that harkens back to the seminal release of “Turn on the Bright Lights,” while others think they should've given up years ago. I’m somewhere in the middle, with ”Antics” being the best record. Today I give to you the best Interpol songs, I hope you enjoy.
10. All the Rage Back Home, El Pintor
The newest record finds the band making the best music in years, and it relates very well back to the early days of the band. This song opens the record, and for a band nearing twenty years in the game, they sound incredibly fresh. The track is immediate, and the voice of Paul Banks hides quietly in certain spots of the song, letting the music of the other members drift the forefront before the vocalist comes back to make the song whole. It’s pretty good, even if you compare it to the early strokes of genius the band gave us. If you have given up on the band, maybe it's time to revisit. The song is as good as anything they’ve ever done.
9. Pace is the Trick, Our Love to Admire
Guitar strumming highlights the opening of the song, and it’s this type of eerie atmosphere and clever lyrical usage that Interpol has become known for. This song though, truly takes the reigns during the chorus, when Banks belts out strong vocals, while the guitars and drum make the back him up to brilliant effect. When the band does this mid tempo with blemishes of power type track, they’re likely at their best. However, that’s not to say that songs unlike this are bad. “Pace is the Trick,” on the list of the Top Ten Interpol songs, really demonstrates how many different rhythmic weapons the band has.
8. Slow Hands, Antics
It’s hard to judge the band by commercial hits(having never heard them on mainstream radio), but this song is more than likely one of their best known songs, and it’s not hard to see why. The guitar is prevalent, and the imagery always make me think of a Speed Racer influenced world where the track itakes place. The chorus is full of pop sensibilities, but it isn’t cliche in the way much of pop music is. This shows how well the band is able to straddle the line between smart, thinking man's rock and roll, and still being able to write a fun, high energy track that makes you want to just lose your mind. “Slow Hands” was the big break the band needed to introduce their second album, but don’t think the track name has anything to do with the tempo. The song is fast, and over quickly, and leaves you wanting more.
7. Pioneer to the Falls, Our Love to Admire
Imagine this: A slow fog creeping over a mountain, surrounding a vastly empty lake. It’s early morning, and the residents of the lowly hillside town have no idea of the darkness and despair that awaits them. That’s what I picture when thinking about the setting to “Pioneer to the Falls,’ which comes in at number seven of the Best Interpol Songs. The drumming by Sam Forgarino keeps the slow and mysterious scenery intact, but it’s in the bridge and chorus of the track where the band shines. The shimmering effect of the guitar during the third minute of the track is mesmerizing, and the quickened drum roll that unfolds after that really hits the soul in a great way, and it elevates the song in a way that makes it impossible to resist. It also has a “Twin Peaks” type atmosphere to it, which only helps to make you picture the desperation present throughout this highly underrated track.
6. NYC, Turn on the Bright Lights
If “Turn on the Bright Lights” is the anthem for late night wandering in a big city, than undoubtedly “ NYC,” the third track on the record, is the single flickering light as you find new parts of the city you’ve never witnessed before. It’s hauntingly cold, and the echo effects that the band uses to make Banks’ voice seem distant only add to the ambience of the entire track. While this isn’t my number one, you also can’t argue that few of the songs sound similar to this one. The line “I know you’ve supported me for a long time, but somehow I’m not impressed,” is a line that makes me think of the selfishness of people, but even more the sleeping cities that people occupy at night. There’s so much to witness and experience, and sometimes you need to do it in the dark. If you do, find yourself a bike, and witness the city you live in at two a.m. through the eyes of this masterful track.
5. Not Even Jail, Antics
“Not Even Jail” is a drum heavy track that really captures the late night tendencies of people who aren’t interested in being polite, at least, in my opinion. Again, all parts of the band blend together, but it’s the bass work by Carlos D that really gives the song it’s “umph,” if you feel me. It’s barely recognizable to a casual listener, but that powerful rhythm section really drives the force of the song. The track live is also great. It’s a fan favorite, which made it even worse when Voodoo Fest cut the set immediately after the song(or was it during?). Either way, the song is powered by the drums and made even better by the layered quality of the vocals.
4. Roland, Turn on the Bright Lights
Who is “Roland” exactly? He’s clearly busy, but what is he butchering? We don’t get the answers, but it’s ok because speculation is always fun. Beyond that, the instrumentation in the song has a hip shakin’ vibe to it, and it really brings out another side to the band. This track, more than likely, is one of the more upbeat and intensely fast paced tracks on the debut record, and at the critical point on the record where it comes in, it really helps to bring the record to a more uptempo place than some of the other tracks surrounding it. It’s a great song throughout, and a big part of that has to do with the force at which the band plays. Truly a magnetic track.
3. Evil, Antics
If you haven’t even seen this video, please do so. It’s easily one of the strangest music video’s I’ve ever seen, but it fits the song so well that it’s become one of my favorites. The song itself is masterful though too. One of the best assets about this song, and the band in particular, is Banks’ willingness to tell a story in extremely non-linear, sometimes nonsensical ways. Often the lyrics don’t really follow a trend or theme, but they all play back perfectly into the narrative the band as a whole has created. Backed by the band, the vocals are allowed to soar, and when the instrumentation are this good and chipper, the vocals only have to add to it. It’s also a total drum thumper; something you can do pump your foot up and down to while merrily singing along. It’s one of the best tracks from “Antics,” and at number three on the Best Interpol songs, it’s worth checking out.
2. Obstacle 1, Turn on the Bright Lights
Such a phenomenal song, and even after all these years of having it in my life, it has never gotten old or boring to me. The song has this chipper music thing happening but the lyrics are anything but upbeat and chipper. I call this the “Shins” effect, by which the music is more upbeat but the overall message is not. But even here, the music doesn’t really stay positive for the duration. I imagine flashing lights in the rain, and forced exile in the world of the “Bright Lights,” but it works, which is the important thing. This song had quite a bit to do with the band's initial success, and it’s easy to see why. This type of band hadn’t been a big success yet, and compare them all you want to Joy Division and like minded bands, but I honestly feel Interpol took the next natural step in the post punk movement and made it their own.
1.Take You on a Cruise, Antics
And finally we come to our number one. From the album “Antics,” the best song on the Top Ten Interpol songs, “Take You on a Cruise.” The song creeps open with a slight orchestral vibe going on, and you really can picture yourself on a giant boat moving away from whatever troubles you. It’s a song that makes me imagine blue waters, winds in your hair, and the ever growing fear that it might not “be alright.” It’s just a pretty song all around, and it’s able to captivate the listener in a way that no other song by this band does. When you hear Paul Banks belt out “I am a scavenger” you really feel the tension and thought he’s giving whatever issue is at hand. The guitar parts almost serve to glisten in the blue water I mentioned earlier, and there’s not a better song for a gorgeous blue day outside enjoying the water. Maybe that’s why they wrote the song, maybe not. But either way, the song is texturally gorgeous, and a true indicator of how amazing the band is. I hope you’ve enjoyed. Thanks for reading. See you Wednesday.
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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