Old heroes torn asunder

29 Jul

So I heard Interpol’s latest single, “Barricade,” on The Current today. I should probably end this post there. But I’ve got  more to say on sincerity, Titus Andronicus, and Interpol after the jump.

So let’s start with Interpol, shall we? Here’s the link from Pitchfork, via Stereogum.

There is a right of passage in watching your heroes fall, as if no one could possibly hold up the world forever without getting bored, annoyed, or lost. I couldn’t possibly expect Interpol to always sound like they did when I first heard “Antics” back in 2004 (I was 16).

It was a slushy day, rain and snow both, and I happened to duck into the old Virgin Megastore on Michigan Avenue. The angular black, red and white of an “Antics” poster greeted me and I bought the record without a second thought. I had heard “Turn on the Bright Lights” in passing, but seeing the monolithic “Antics” poster, I knew this was something that awkward 16 year-old dreams were made of.

I ran straight out the door to my dad’s office, hoping he would be ready to catch the next train back to the suburbs so I could try and understand what “Antics” had to say. I poured over the liner notes (I should say the lack-thereof), hoping the copyrights would tell me why Interpol packaged their album that way, what they were hiding behind the cool guise and the expensive suits.

When I finally listened, it was all I wanted to do for days. I ignored friends, walked around with headphones at my house, and I loved every minute of it. I haven’t experienced anything like that since.

There’s a Titus lyric I want to highlight. Two actually, one now and one later. The first is from “The Battle of Hampton Roads,” when Patrick Stickles moans “All of my heroes, have died in the end.” It’s a moment of exasperation, how do you continue after that happens?

For many, we don’t. We accept what has happened has happened, a purpose has been served and we move on. For me, “Barricade” was the death of a hero. Paul Banks’ confident voice now wallows in watery reverb, taking the shape of a whine rather than its nearly-disturbing baritone. Carlos D sounds completely disinterested (and we all now know why), while the rest of Interpol chugs along like puppets on strings.

When “Sky Blue Sky” came out I wanted to whisper to Jeff Tweedy to come home.’ We’re all riding the El waiting for you,’ I’d say, ‘Tell us why we’re confused.’ But I learned from it to just depart, and I will do the same thing with Interpol. They hold a place in my own musicology, when I organize my records autobiographically based on importance, and I guess that’s all I can really ask for at this point in my musical life.

To end on a high note:

And a final note, going back to Titus. “The Battle of Hampton Roads” ends in a curiously sincere way. As my friend Kyle wrote, it “embraces the putrid reality between synthetic flair.” We’re left with a near-whisper, “Please don’t ever leave.” A simple request, one that can’t be fulfilled, we know it never will be filled. But when someone agrees to, everything feels alright.


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