"The subway is a porno/The pavements, they are a mess." So desperately intones Interpol's Paul Banks just a few lines into "NYC," itself just a few tracks into Interpol's debut full-length, Turn on the Bright Lights. "NYC" is a downcast and pointed song, a dismayed meditation on the squalid streets of the late-night metropolis, an elegant and sweeping indictment of the city that once raised--and continues to support--the perpetually suit-clad band (and about 8 million others). And it's the most accomplished song on Lights, but not the only bright moment. Even when the lyrics take on their own abstract logic (as on "PDA," where the chorus goes a little something like this: "Sleep tight/Grim rite/We have 200 couches where you can sleep tonight"), Interpol has a palpable, swirling nervous energy to fall back on. Many of the tracks--most notably "Obstacle 1" and "Say Hello to the Angels"--unfurl frantically on an '80s post-punk tightness. They're playing a nifty geographical trick: Despite what Turn on the Bright Lights suggests, Manchester, England, is not in fact New York City's neglected sixth borough.


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