IT'S A SUNDAY night. There are several people in my kitchen. I've got a round table, and I've asked them to sit around it because something has been bothering me for weeks, and that something is Interpol. Maybe I'm missing it—and if I am, these people will tell me—but the thing is, I really and truly do not think that Interpol are any good.
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To warm up, we listen to Unknown Pleasures.
"Now these guys sound like Joy Division!" someone jokes.
And therein lies my biggest beef: I cannot take the Joy Division comparisons any longer. I will accept the Radiohead analogies, I can even stomach the Echo & the Bunnymen associations, but Joy Division? Have those people actually heard Joy Division? I concede that Interpol vocalist Paul Banks' clipped, anxious style borrows heavily from the post-punk gloaming of Ian Curtis' baritone, but my god, I once forced myself to spend an entire day listening to Turn On the Bright Lights under the florescent bulbs of my office cubicle and I didn't feel a single thing. Not one single thing. Give me just the opening drumbeat of "She's Lost Control," and I'm already in a sweat.
But it's time to get to work. I switch the stereo from PHONO to CD, pop in the Next Big Thing, and cue up track one.
"Untitled," I announce, adding, "italics mine."
My displeasure is met with commiserating groans.
"Old U2 meets new U2," someone says.
"I liked it better when it was called Coldplay," says another.
The song "PDA" garners the comments, "Post-Post-Post Sixteen Candles," "When the Psychedelic Furs started to suck," and one request that we order pizza.
I am so happy I'm not alone that I skip ahead to "Hands Away," because this is the song that bothers me most. At their worst, Interpol seem to combine all the stale and growing-staler elements of indie rock—the cloying, predictable crap that made me all but turn my back on that genre for good not long ago. Where Interpol should get smart is inevitably where they get dumb, and "Hands Away" is a perfect example. The shit just leaves me cold. Interpol are the sonic equivalent of Nordstrom Rack; all the semigood stuff has been marked down and reshelved. It's still boring, it's still predictable—and, miraculously, the kids still want to buy it.
"Syd Barrett meets Journey," is someone's reply to My Least Favorite Interpol Song.
"No! Dave Gilmour meets Journey," goes the follow-up.
"What Interpol is not: a Brillo pad on your brain." The hits keep coming, but they're not emitting from the stereo.
From there, things seriously digress—my favorite foray being the astute, "Eddie Bauer meets the Mighty Lemon Drops."
Toward the end of our listening session, someone sums up the record so succinctly that I want to kiss her: "I guess this is probably the coolest thing you can listen to the morning after someone breaks up with you and you're driving to IKEA to buy yourself a new disposable lifestyle."