Mixed in part by Gareth Jones, whose work with Clinic and Depeche Mode logically lends itself to Interpol's sound, Turn on the Bright Lights is at once melancholy and catchy, polished yet gritty. Whereas other recent buzz-worthy bands have settled for being merely imitative, Interpol lets influences like Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen shine while still lighting a fire beneath its own creative stew.
Nearly every song is startlingly transfixing, doused with fragile intensity and united by stabbing guitar riffs and distant, driving drums. "Obstacle 1" recalls David Bowie at his most maudlin -- from the era of albums like Heroes and Low -- with frontman Paul Banks gasping for breath before each line as if singing between sobs.
In contrast, "PDA" amasses energy on par with the Pixies, and "Say Hello to the Angels" recalls early Cure -- dreary, dark and pop-infused all at once. It's only on the comparatively sluggish "Hands Away" that Interpol comes dangerously close to mediocrity, offering a tired guitar melody that could easily be confused with any number of atmospheric pop outfits.
On "NYC," Banks delivers lines such as Subway, she is a porno/Pavements they are a mess/I know you've supported me for a long time/Somehow I'm not impressed with an appropriately desolate tone. With all the clamor and efficiency of subterranean transit, Interpol pays homage to the town that bred it and establishes itself as one of the most promising outfits to emerge from that city this year.