Top Ten Worst Lines on Interpol’s First Album
nterpol—everyone’s got an opinion on ‘em, and here is mine: Good band, tight chemistry and a fantastic guitar sound. Despite how everyone says that they’re nothing but a collection of influences from cooler bands of the 70s and 80s (and technically, they still are) they’ve proven to be one of the most influential rock bands of the decade, traces of their sound working into countless other bands (including breakthroughs like Franz Ferdinand and The Killers). Sounds good, but there’s still a problem: Those lyrics.
Yes, those lyrics, those god-awful lyrics that would even make Ben Gibbard wince a bit. I’ve grown to love them in their own way, but god they still have the power to make me cringe, even after extended time with the album. Now I’m sure I’m gonna get a ton of excuses for this—“it’s part of the Interpol sound!,” “come on, who listens to lyrics anymore?,” “hey, I like lyrics about catatonic sex toy scuba divers!” will be among them, certainly—yeah, yeah, yeah, but none of this changes that these lyrics are bad, bad, bad. Among the atrocities found among Interpol’s debut album Turn on the Bright Lights are dumb metaphors, forced rhymes, horrible similes and some of the worst uses of personification you’ll ever witness (pretty much all of which can be found in a little song called “Obstacle 2”). So, without further ado: the ten most laughably unforgivable lines and couplets from the first Interpol album.
10. "I wish I could eat the salt off your lost faded lips" (“Obstacle 1”)
In the first of lyricist Paul Bank’s many stabs at some semblance of romanticism, this is among the worst flops—plus, he should be licking the salt off of said lost faded lips, not eating it. No one eats salt.
9. “"I'm gonna pull you in close / Gonna wrap you up tight / Gonna play with the braids that you came here with tonight" (“Obstacle 2”)
Banks tries to sound like a sexual predator of some sort? I mean, I guess promises/threats to “pull you in close” and “wrap you up tight” might be kinda sexy, but playing “with the braids that you came here with tonight” gets Banks no points. Girls are sensitive about these sorts of things.
8. “She says brief things, her love’s a pony, my love's subliminal" (“Leif Erikson”)
On their own, none of these lyrics would be too terrible—well, of course, except for the pony one—but when combined, they’re a classic Banks dud. “She says brief things”—ok, I guess that could be considered nice. “Her love’s a pony”—uh, I guess everyone likes ponies. “My love’s subliminal”—oh, OK. That explains everything.
7. "This is a contest, this is a bracelet, this isn't no intervention" (“Say Hello to the Angels”)
Well, I must admit I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my heart set on some sort of intervention, but I guess I’ll settle for the contest and bracelet.
6. “"Well she was my catatonic sex toy love-joy diver" (“Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down”)
Halfway through the most incredibly heart-rendering scuba diver love song this side of The Sounds of the Sounds of Science comes this lamentation—a deeply felt ode to Stella, Paul Banks’s “catatonic sex toy love-joy diver”. Now catatonia was never too much of a priority for me in life partners, but maybe Stella was just that good a sex toy.
5. “Because friends don't waste wine when there's words to sell" (“Obstacle 2”)
No kidding? Huh.
4. “The subway, she is a porno" (“NYC”)
It’s not the (admittedly awkward) subway / porno comparison that upsets me about this one, it’s the reference to the subway as a “she”. This sort of thing should be reserved for sea captains’ ships and military dudes’ AK-47s. Banks is just being way too presumptuous here.
3. "Her stories are boring and stuff / She’s always calling my bluff” (“Obstacle 1”)
“Obstacle 1” hurts me deeply, because it would be such a great song without lines like this one. Perhaps the most obviously forced rhyme in indie rock history, the use of the “and stuff” filler phrase still stuns just as much today as it did two years ago. If it wasn’t for the fact that the “she’s always calling my bluff” line is kind of cool, this would certainly be the worst line on the album. What were you thinking, man??
2. “My best friend's a butcher, he has sixteen knives / He carries them all over the town at least he tries / Oh look it stopped snowing" (“Roland”)
The first line to “Roland” isn’t so bad I guess—some silly lines about a butcher friend of Banks, who sort of kind of maybe tries to set Roland up as a working class hero figure with that “he carries them all over town / at least he tries” line. But then, for some reason, he gets distracted by the weather and remarks upon how it has stopped snowing. It’s like Banks was in the studio singing “Roland”, and upon reaching the end of the line, glanced out the window and was so stunned by the fact that it had stopped snowing (?), that he had to remark upon it in song, forgetting that the mic was still on. I can just picture the producer later realizing it was still in the song and going to cut it out, but Banks interrupting him, saying “no, leave it. It’s natural.”
1. “"I feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye / I think he's making something special and I'm smart enough to try" (“Obstacle 2”)
Oh man, is this one a monster. Once again Banks tries his hand at romanticism with doomed results, bizarrely personifying love as a chef “with a culinary eye”. This surreal loverman act of Banks’s (“I feel he’s making something special and I’m smart enough to try”—sexy!) makes this line the worst one in a song full of throwaway lines. And what’s more, it appears to have become the sort of precedent for a new batch of romantic atrocities in the form of Interpol’s second album, Antics, with lines like “you make me want to pick up my guitar / and celebrate the myriad ways that I love you”. Well, Mr. Banks, you’ve certainly left us with quite a few here.