Staff Top 10
Top Ten Worst Lines on Interpol’s First Album

By: Andrew Unterberger
2004-10-22



Posted 10/22/2004 - 01:45:19 AM by anthonymiccio:
 booooo! boooooo! hater! hater! boooooo! booooooo! Interpol's cryptic art-girl baiting beats everybody else's ever. He's honed his art on Antics and you did a good job of picking genuine stand-outs but there's something to be said for a guy who writes such memorable bad poetry.
 
Posted 10/22/2004 - 01:49:29 AM by anthonymiccio:
 hahaha I should have read your intro before posting that. I'll admit you got the real stilted moments. He's smooth like butter on Antics. You need someone to take you THERE!
 
Posted 10/22/2004 - 08:15:48 AM by Sotoalf:
 Somewhere, I hope, Bernard Sumner is gnashing his teeth enviously. Maybe I'll write something similar about New Order...
 
Posted 10/22/2004 - 09:07:23 AM by AUnterberger:
 yeah, I've thought about doing that myself many a time (for Get Ready especially).
 
Posted 10/22/2004 - 02:47:27 PM by thinsafetypin:
 even though i know you're right, it still doesn't stop several of these lines (notably "I'm gonna pull you in close / Gonna wrap you up tight / Gonna play with the braids that you came here with tonight") from running through my head all day long. plus, i always thought he was TRYING to be creepy with the braids line? maybe not. i did ask a few friends of mine when we went to see interpol at the palladium a year or so ago what exactly "the subway she is a porno" meant. no one seemed to know. one guy tried to give me a long, drawn out philosophical interpretation, but i didn't buy it.
 
Posted 10/22/2004 - 02:48:10 PM by mbloodyv:
 Please say there's going to be an Antics sequel to this fine feature. Some suggestions: "Not Even Jail"'s "I'm sorta like a lion's cage / Such a cautious display", and any and all songs that include that great, 4th grade couplet "life" and "strife"
 
Posted 10/22/2004 - 02:58:37 PM by AUnterberger:
 That'd mean I'd have to listen to the album more. Not sure how up for that I am.
 
Posted 10/22/2004 - 03:49:35 PM by brente:
 when are you going to write an article about beck or stephen malkmus? their lyrics don't make any sense either...paul's lyrics bug me some on antics, but nothing on TOTBL ever made me cringe. in fact, some of the lines you mention are amongst my favorites (2, 4, and 5--i thought he was saying "worse" to sell, but either way). and your only explanation is "gee, that sounds dumb." well, i disagree.
 
Posted 10/22/2004 - 11:08:36 PM by MyNameIsKenny:
 Beck and Stephen Malkmus both write lyrics that are purposefully silly or surrealistic nonsense. This is just failed poetry.
 
Posted 10/22/2004 - 11:28:43 PM by AUnterberger:
 Ken's got it. Just because lyrics don't make sense doesn't mean they're bad, as exemplified by sirs Malkmus and Hansen. However, when said lyrics are sung with such gut-wrenching earnestness and implied depth as Paul Banks does on the first interpol album (or Barney Sumner does on the last New Order album), it's an entirely different beast.

And what other explanation is needed besides "this is dumb because..."?
 
Posted 10/23/2004 - 09:58:55 AM by Sotoalf:
 Andrew, I'd disagree with your Barney remarks only in this: he doesn't even attempt sincerity half the time. He knows his lyrics are crap and most times he just delivers them with as straight a face as he can. They don't make you cringe like failed poetry does. I've made my peace with Barney's gibberish years ago, and now enjoy them as much as Ian Curtis' attempts at doomy significance.
 
Posted 10/23/2004 - 05:43:16 PM by AUnterberger:
 Oh, totally agreed, Al--and in fact, there are lyrics of Barneys that are among my favorite ever written (and totally preferable to Ian Curtis). But there are still some cringers on Get Ready--too numerous to name here--even if they aren't quite as off-putting because they're so obviously silly.
 
Posted 10/24/2004 - 04:32:07 PM by IanMathers:
 I'm mostly with Andrew here, but I confess to loving 2, 3 and 8. Especially 3! How can you now love 3? I was similarly astounded by the "and stuff" on first listen, but it was with love, not disdain.
 
Posted 10/24/2004 - 05:57:53 PM by NervousEnergy:
 So Banks' lyrics can be a little ambiguous, absurd and mundain but why is this article focussed on Interpol, let alone only their first album!? This would have been a much more interesting piece had it been about bad lyrics from a variety of artists (Even just limited to modern ones) rather than a personal attack on a relatively inexperienced song writer.
 
Posted 10/24/2004 - 07:15:59 PM by AUnterberger:
 That would be interesting, but a bit too ambitious for a mere top ten I'd say.

Anyway, I should make it clear that this wasn't meant as a personal attack on Banks--it's an article more meant as a playful ribbing than a straight condemnation, and I could probably name about as many lines of his that are fairly affecting. It's just what Anthony said in his first comment here --"there's something to be said for a guy who writes such memorable bad poetry," even if I find it memorable in a slightly different way. All I did was say it.
 
Posted 10/25/2004 - 12:37:37 PM by kingatnight:
 I've always loved the "hey look it stopped snowing" non sequitur in Roland. Pretty unique I think - and why not notice the weather? It's something that happens.
 
Posted 10/25/2004 - 02:52:07 PM by billiejean:
 You didn't include the stand-out cringer: "You're so cute when you're frustrated/You're so cute when you're sedated" I don't mind all the odd nonsense lyrics on this album, but the above is just so ADOLESCENT. (It's edgy! There's a reference to drug use! And it rhymes! = Perfect!) Great music though.
 
Posted 10/25/2004 - 07:41:28 PM by misterfrom:
 first of all, banks is saying he WISH he could eat the salt of those faded lips. if he followed your advice, the aforementioned line wouldn't sound as convincing. it would sound CHEEEZY, actually. plus, have you heard of "figure of speech?"
 
Posted 10/28/2004 - 02:51:25 AM by martin:
 Anyone dares to go in clinch with lyrics from the Anticon crew?
 
Posted 10/29/2004 - 03:28:22 AM by lillygreen:
 ok think blow jobs it'll help with some of this and not everything always has to make sense. I suppose it might be easier when someone is singing about hams to make fun of them but I'm sure there is a really good place where all if it comes from.
 
Posted 11/20/2004 - 10:28:00 PM by interpol_2221:
 ok, wait a second here, is this guy a dumbass or what!? the lines from obstacle 1 and nyc are awesome obstacle 2 and roland also now look here for you idiots, the song roland, is a reference to a friend of paul's that sells cocaine, and the "look it stopped snowing" is a reference to his friend being caught and the cocaine that he stopped selling, get it? what i can't understand is how this guy is so stupid as to think that paul was writing about a butcher who got caught with knifes, IDIOT these lyrics all have some meaning behind them, especially to the writer the fact that one cannot understand or appreciate them does not mean that one has to bitch about it THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
 
Posted 11/20/2004 - 10:35:13 PM by interpol_2221:
 also the fact that banks refered to the subway as a female is of no problem to me, i dont care if it is he she or it, get a grip honestly that line is awesome, i love it, it must be the best line in NYC paul mentioned somewhere that he wrote this when he was depressed. the real question is how can the subway not be a porno? to me it's a whore, it carries off anybody in it and everyone uses, there's signs everywhere, posters promoting movies and whatnot, its a complete whore, its just there its open, how can it not be compared to porno? (i wonder if anyone just caught the sexual references in my explanation)
 
Posted 12/03/2004 - 08:48:19 PM by koreda:
 I noticed that Stylus is looking for new writers. After reading this incredibly insightful, well constructed and ultimately brilliant article, why not let Andy write all their articles? I mean, just the idea of coming up with a "top ten" list is something so daring and original, one would think this would be instantly mimicked by say, late night talk show hosts or John Cusack films. My advice to you Andy is if you are so confounded and befuddled by Paul's lyrics, try listening to something very simple and easy to understand... I'm thinking maybe Britney's cover of My Perogative might suit your simpleton tastes and hey, you might even find yourself humming along. I think if you actually had any knowledge of Interpol, Paul's writing, or hell, music in general, you'd be feeling a wee bit stupid right about now but that's probably not a new experience for you.
 
Posted 12/08/2004 - 01:48:27 PM by Sotoalf:
 Why is it always the philistines who act the rudest? For the two previous posters: biography is irrelevant to understanding songs. Good criticism implicity disregards biography. If my pet donkey Saul died tomorrow and I wrote a particularly sad song, no doubt you'd say that said sad song was about Saul.
 
Posted 01/16/2005 - 02:11:30 AM by JohnICV:
 I came across this thread and feel the need to express my disagreement with the writer's assertions of Paul Banks' "worst" lyrics. Cleary the writer does not fully understand the subtleties of the music. Bank's lyrics are not just pretentious wankery or ill-conceived space-filling rhymes. This being said, it must be established as to what the band appears to be aiming for with this album, which in my opinion is, along with My Bloody Valentine's 'Loveless,' one of the most important rock albums in relatively recent memory. This album, which so many dismiss as conceived in the image of Joy Division, is, in my opinion, really quite different in approach. Joy Division effected sheer isolation and sterility through its music. Interpol's music is disaffected but yearning- it is an expression of a desire to truly connect with others. This is nothing new to music, but Paul writes from a position of decadence and, rather than insular isolation, genuine stoicism and cynicsm regarding the present age. To start: "She's always calling my bluff / Her stories are boring and stuff." -This lyric reflects the crux of the entire song: he is so immensely uninterested and disenfranchised by the female subject's modes of expression and communication that he does not feel it neccessary to express his boredom by writing in any sort of eloquent tongue. "She's boring in stuff" is the ultimate indication of his own reciprocal boredom. Anything more indicates that he is interested in examining the issue. Progressing further with this theme: The author of this article woefully dismisses the lyric labeled as number 8. "Uh I guess everyone likes ponies?" The lyric is a simple metaphor- Ponies are traditional symbols of the mercurial and fleeting. To examine this in the context of the song: The song is about the utter inability to connect, particularly sexually, with another person. "She says it helps with the lights off," "She doesn't know I left my urge in the ice box," etc. This inabilty to achieve sexual connection stems from lack of emotional understanding. The song's power lies in its expression of a subtle yearning for things to actually organically gel, and the sense that this may still be possible. This song is less clinical than much of the album musically, and it is brilliantly intuitive. "She says brief things" simply means that she is relatively closed off and it is difficult communicating with her. His love is there but it is effectively sublimated- which means that it has been forced under due to a larger more pressing issue, i.e. the formulaic, mechanical, clinical desire to emotionally function properly, and the desire to not have to directly address his disfunction. Paul has made it no secret that he believes that life is not a slow march toward death, but that death validates and presents an exuse for a decandent, indulgent, sensory-based life style. In the 'Stella' lyrics mentioned int he article- again, these are not mere nonsense. They are clear and exacting. This song again is about defunct sexual interaction. "Love joy diver' is an underhanded sexual allusion and "catatonic" refers to a unfeeling, unmoving state. Simply, Stella is incapable of performing properly sexually, i.e. she is frigid and disturbed. The persona of the singer is attracted to this type of clinical sexual satisfaction because the pressure of emotional investment is absent. I am not going to go through each of the others for risk of boring the reader further, but it is plain to see that these lyrics, as is the music itself, are very calculated and thought-out. Connotation and delivery are very important with the words. Additionally, the music itself lends to the mood of the lyrics, and alongside the cold, crisp, sharp guitar needles there are swells and numerous moments of sheer beauty, conveying the hope buried in the record. it is not a record of isolation. Conversely, the new album, Antics, is much more extroverted and aggressive; it is much less self-examining and self-conscious, and more immediate. Paul's knack for haunting lyrics is in top form on 'Slow Hands' with "...makes me want to pick up a guitar and celebrate the myriad ways that I love you" and Interpol's absolute best lyric and delivery (in C'mere, elipses used to denote slight pause in delivery): "ohh how I love you, in the evenings... when we are sleeping... we are sleeping." It seems that this record has reconciled some of the struggles with the concept of love: Love and relation to others is viewed from a very cynical, almost disturbing, lense. But, the hope is still prevalent on this record. It is about accepting the frailty of emotion, an almost proto-existentialism. The line from 'Slow Hands' illustrates this well. Obviously he is not being sincere with this line. Just listen to him sing it. Plus, it is grammatically incorrect. it should be "the myriad of ways." But this imperfection in the actual presentation of the words reflects his state of mind that such a heroic and romanticized view of love is unrealistic and maybe impossible. Love and the mechanisms of relationg to others is imperfect. Yet he tries nonetheless to express himself and his acknowledgement that true connectedness is possible. The emotional frailty and difunction examined on the first album may not be disfunction but instead the natural state of things. This record is more proactive and has a "take control" mentality to it- things may be flawed but it is a viable approach on life to actively indulge in and embrace the peculiarities of human interaction and "look the other way." Paul Banks' lyrics are better than most rock lyrics of today and their subtleties and contexts must be taken into account beefore dismissing them as idiocy. I apologize for any mistakes in grammar and syntax I made while typing this and I apologize for the length! This is only my opinion after many listens of the album. Paul and the rest of Interpol are not dumb and the lyrics, in my opinion, aren't just "memorable bad poetry."
 
Posted 01/20/2005 - 11:53:46 PM by harveyparadox:
 "oh look it stopped snowing always reminded me of some kinda gary numan line circa "replicas"...it's just that sort of disaffected line that for me at least paints beautiful pictures...
 
Posted 02/09/2005 - 08:50:46 AM by sbcsdrummer:
 i tend to agree with the comment about "Subway she is a porno" that kinda didn't really seem so great to me. But i have a problem with you bagging "Her stories are boring and stuff, she's always calling my bluff" i think that is a great line. Because, its completely original, and adds a sense of dry humour to an otherwise serious, seemingly inciteful song. The other i dislike, is ur comment on "Oh look it stopped snowing" im a big fan of the left-feild kind of stuff, thats pretty much the only reason i can handle The Mars Volta's lyrics, or Beck. But i love interpol, and i share pretty much the opposite opinion of the author.
 
Posted 05/03/2005 - 03:52:39 PM by cwperry:
 Am I the only one who hates "we have two hundred couches/ where you can sleep tight" from the otherwise dandy "PDA"? That song would rock two hundred times harder if the climax didn't involve the singer claiming there are 200 couches to sleep on. Someone, please give me your philosophical take on it, because it sounds downright stupid to me.
 
Posted 06/18/2005 - 06:52:33 AM by CrazyGood:
 it would help if you got the words right too! in Say Hello To The Angels the line is; 'This is a CONCEPT etc.' not 'This is a contest etc.'
 
Posted 06/26/2005 - 05:49:01 PM by stumbleine:
 Hello, I was just searching for Interpol articles and this came up and I kind of felt compelled to reply. I think you may be missing the point of Paul Bank's lyrics a bit, and that is the context of the music. The tone of his words fit the mood of the songs perfectly. And it's not like great lyrics are a requirement in (and I use the term loosely) 'pop' music. Some of the Beatles lyrics are far more cringeworthy than these Interpol gems. Still it was fairly entertaining. Can you do Oasis next, because that really would be a laugh.
 
Posted 09/05/2005 - 06:53:08 PM by neuromancer:
 your complaints are ridiculous! lyrics are so subjective and your judgement is based on opinions! you have too much time on your hands. try golf or diving
 
Posted 11/04/2005 - 10:38:14 PM by Lydia29:
 Oh come on. I love Interpol, they're one of the best bands ever, I've seen them live so many times, but their lyrics are sometimes a little too ridiculous. I agree completely with the article. Sometimes songs really do have deeper meanings, and sometimes the lyrics are just stupid. It doesn't mean Interpol sucks, just that they aren't the best lyrics writers. Thanks for a great article. It's hilarious and so true.
 
Posted 11/09/2005 - 10:14:28 PM by Travis_Parker:
 I love how people take Stylus' top ten articles or writers WAY too seriously. Chill out, it's all in good fun. He said Interpol was great, so back off, okay? Yeah, there are some crappy lines, but some great ones too, and if Banks and his fans can't handle good-natured ribbing, they probably can't handle much at all. I really thought this was a funny article poking fun at one of my favorite albums. I listened to it recently, maybe yesterday. So good. I love the 200 couches line, personally. Oh look, it's stopped snowing. I hate when people take sarcasm/satire seriously.
 
Posted 11/23/2005 - 01:59:27 AM by Edie1973:
 This is hysterical... I love people defending, explaining and disecting songs... I love Interpol, I love Paul Banks...most of the lyrics Andrew mention I can see as being perhaps a little ambitious or pretentious but as I said in my mind he can do no wrong and really if he wanted to play with my braids and eat salt of my lips..I'd let him..he's a dirty dirty little boy and Andrew you lack the forgiveness of a woman who will look past the akward prose and rhyme to see PB for the grade A piece of golden tonsiled ass that we love so very much....it's quite simple really....
 
Posted 12/04/2005 - 07:06:02 PM by interpolaroid:
 who the hell do you think you are. What makes you so much more romantic than Paul Banks. His lyrics, in fact any lyrics, true lyrics are a representation of inner emotion and feeling, and for you to say that interpol is a good band, but their lyrics are god-awful and/or basically lack reality, is absurd. This job you have of criticizing anyone is a sorry excuse for the life you lead. Maybe before you decide to post something negative about something someone else has to state about this place we are all stuck on together, you should consider he is speaking about how he feels about having his heart broken, or many of the other emotions he feels at points in his life. I'm sorry you had to listen to their music, despite their catchy guitar rifts and influential, yet stolen music style. Thank you, and have a nice day.
 
Posted 12/23/2005 - 04:22:04 PM by IcicledTori:
 Someone obviously does not want to get laid anytime soon...
 
Posted 06/16/2006 - 07:09:21 PM by maybelline:
 oh dear. as much as i love interpol. i have to laugh at what mr. unterberger has depicted with the "oh look it stopped snowing line." however, i do believe that you could perceive mr. banks' lyrics in so many different ways. i don't believe that you have seen all the ideas and meanings of the interpol lyrics. they're hidden and you have to dig deep to find meanings in their lyrics. and it may even still not make sense to you but that doesn't mean that it has a reasonable meaning for others. i enjoyed reading this though because all of these lines make sense to me. yes even "oh look it stopped snowing." but i'm going to have to disagree with the cocaine case for that one. i think it somewhat refers to the holocaust. if you've listened to the whole song i think it'd be a bit apparent.
 
Posted 08/10/2006 - 12:52:54 AM by renegade2k8:
 you cant disagree with the cocain line about oh look it stopped snowing. paul banks wrote the song about a friend who sold cocaine. you cant just disagree with that because it actually happened lol. also, whoever wrote this has no ability to interpret songs whatsoever and cant seem to look deeper into any lyric before bashing it. JohnICV has the best comment on this page and anybody who has half a brain would read his post in its entirety and maybe you'll realize the stupidity of this article
 
Posted 08/01/2007 - 01:25:28 AM by godelieve:
 ahahaa, ha, ha, ha... this is really late, but i just stumbled upon it. that is some funny shit. yeah, i do love the line "oh look, it stopped snowing", but just imagining him all squinty-eyed guitar-playing, whipping his head around to the freshly-fallen snow, and still singing "oh look, it stopped snowing." makes me piss myself. good thing there wasn't anything awkward outside like a nudist colony that day in the recording studio.
 
Posted 08/01/2007 - 01:27:24 AM by godelieve:
 ps. sorry you got so many whiners bitching at you. apparently, they can interpret lyrics better than you, but somehow, they cant interpret your writing in the way it was meant to be taken. funny. shitheads.