“Obstacle 1” by Interpol (2002).
This obviously isn’t some momentous, next-big-thing, post given the fact that Interpol are (or at least, most certainly were) a MASSIVE band, and this — arguably the best track from their legitimately heavy, paradigm-shift of an album — isn’t some OOP b-side, but despite all of that cultural capital, I thought I’d share a quick anecdote:
I’m the type of person that is capital S, Stubborn. Ever the hoarding-elitist-snob, I tend to dismiss album recommendations for some of the most inane reasons (I’m really sorry M. Ward [and my good friend, Maria], but Transfiguration of Vincent is a fucking awful album title, and I refuse to subject myself to something ostensibly named after the half boy/half grown woman playground terror who plagued my grade school days), but last week I finally caved and gave The xx’s debut album a shot. Though I don’t really understand the hype that continues to surround this release, xx is pretty good, but that’s not really the point. The point is this: somewhere amidst the minimal boy/girl give and take of “Basic Space,” a switch flips in my brain causing me wonder something along these lines: “Why the hell am I not just listening to Interpol? Because that’s all this band is, right? A precious version? One more at home with oohs and aahs than rock ‘n’ roll? Don’t get me wrong, “Crystalised” is a fine, soulful song, but give me some fucking DISTORTION. GIVE ME SOME DRUMS”.
Take a deep breath. Listen to the song (again). Look at how insanely cool Paul Banks is in that photo. “Obstacle 1” is a phenomenal song. Iconic guitar intro. Heavy beat. Carlos D’s deliciously syncopated bass line(s). Interpol are great because they know how to restrain themselves, which, coincidently, is the single most important thing about being a good musician. Restraint is what allows this song to become as danceable as it is, because without their methodical structuring, and well placed battery (drum/bass) sounds, “Obstacle 1” could easily come off sounding like a noodling garage rock band who’ve decided to “experiment”. Instead, “It’s in the way that she walks/ her heaven is never enough/ she puts the weights into my little heart” is heartbreaking in every single sense of the word, yet I can’t help but bob gleefully along with the bass track. Here I go, tearing up again.