Interpol – S/T EP


New York and I have yet to reconcile. I’ve always had sort of a love/hate relationship with the city. Of course, all of this is distant, since I’ve never been there, but bear with me. Take, for instance, the Yankees. I hate the Yankees. They always beat my Detroit Tigers. They used to beat my father’s Detroit Tigers. In fact, he hated the Yankees so much, he would put Mickey Mantle baseball cards – now worth several hundred dollars – in the spokes of his bike. I do, however, like the idea of a bustling city, bursting with culture and history. I even like The Strokes just fine. Despite this, I’m really not a big fan of the bands coming out of the city recently. The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and their garage ilk all sort of annoy. All this talk of indie rock only being worthwhile if it moves bodies seems awfully bandwagon-esque to me. See? Love hate. Hate the Yankees. Like the image of the city.
Interpol is the New York band that might forever change my opinion of the city. Undoubtedly, they’ll be lumped in with the burgeoning garage rock culture: lots of guitars, wear skinny ties, seem awfully cool. Fortunately, this young four-piece doesn’t sound like they’re playing in a club so much as some sort of hospital. Sterile. Distant. Yet somehow there’s a lot of life living there.
This all-too-brief three-song EP is Interpol’s official debut, though they do have some self-released material. As shown by the Matador tag on the back of this album, somebody’s noticed these guys and gotten them into a nice studio. At first glance, they’re going to draw a lot of comparisons to Joy Division, mostly because the singer’s voice has the same vague, detached yet focused quality. A closer inspection finds the singer’s delivery and tone much closer to that of David Byrne. The band itself whips up a storm in three long songs, the shortest being over four minutes long.
The EP kicks off with “PDA,” the most driving song on the album. Sterile power chords chug along under clean-cut single note leads the patter repetitively over the tight, caustic rhythm section. The songs are mostly built around the two electric guitars, which sound like they’re traveling in straight lines. They’re clear and defined, evocative and chiming, but they’re just dirty enough to blend with the singer’s moan. “NYC” is a much more soothing affair that takes a melancholy verse into a low-flying chorus. When the bridge comes and the singer slides over the line “turn on your bright lights,” it sounds like a pure blast of melody. The six-plus minute “Specialist” closes the EP with a bobbing bass line and the disc’s most coy lyrics: “You make me lose my buttons / oh yeah you make me spit / I don’t like my clothes anymore.” It’s catchy in sort of a macabre way, and the song takes off from there.
What’s really amazing about these songs is their length is never a problem. All the standard elements are there – verse, chorus, bridge – but the songs never seem over-long. This is the most unique-sounding band I’ve heard all year, and I’ll be waiting in line when the full-length comes out in August. So New York and I are at least speaking to each other again. If only Interpol could take care of the Yankees.