Turn on the Bright Lights

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Turn on the Bright Lights
Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights.jpg
Studio album by Interpol
Released August 20, 2002[1]
Recorded November 2001
Length 49:02
Label Matador
Interpol chronology
Turn On the Bright Lights
The Black EP
Singles from Turn on the Bright Lights
  1. "PDA"
    Released: August 2002 (promotional)
  2. "Obstacle 1"
    Released: November 11, 2002
  3. "Say Hello to the Angels" / "NYC"
    Released: April 14, 2003

Turn on the Bright Lights is the debut studio album by the American rock band Interpol, released in August 2002. The album was recorded in November 2001 at Tarquin Studios in Connecticut, and was co-produced, mixed and engineered by Peter Katis and Gareth Jones. It was released on August 19, 2002 in the United Kingdom and August 20 in the United States, through independent record label Matador Records. Upon release, the record peaked at number 101 on the UK Albums Chart. It reached number 158 on the Billboard 200 in the United States, as well as spending 73 weeks in the Billboard Independent Albums, peaking at number five.

"PDA", "NYC", "Obstacle 1" and "Say Hello to the Angels" were the singles from Turn On the Bright Lights, and a video was shot for each with the exception of "Say Hello to the Angels".

The album was certified Gold by the RIAA on August 29, 2011 for shipments of 500,000 copies.[2]

A remastered version of the album was released in 2012 to commemorate its tenth anniversary. It featured additional material including demo recordings of several tracks, the bonus songs previously available on international releases and a DVD of live performances and music videos.[3] Interpol are to embark on a tour in 2017 celebrating the album's 15th anniversary, playing the album front to back.[4]

Promotion and release[edit]

The release of Turn On the Bright Lights was preceded by the marketing of the band's self-titled Interpol EP in June 2002, their first release for Matador. The EP contained three tracks: radio single "PDA", future single "NYC", and "Specialist". All three tracks later appeared on the album, with "Specialist" included as a bonus track in Australian and Japanese editions. Further promotion continued at the beginning of the following year, when the band played the 2003 NME Awards Tour alongside The Datsuns, The Polyphonic Spree and The Thrills.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 81/100[6]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[7]
Blender 3/5 stars[8]
Entertainment Weekly A−[9]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[10]
NME 8/10[11]
Pitchfork 9.5/10[12]
Record Collector 4/5 stars[13]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[14]
Slant Magazine 4.5/5 stars[15]
The Village Voice C+[16]

Upon its initial release, Turn On the Bright Lights received a score of 81 out of 100 from Metacritic based on 21 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[6] Michael Chamy of The Austin Chronicle drew favorable comparisons between the band and a number of acts, citing "melodic Peter Hook-like basslines; the divine shoegazer textures of My Bloody Valentine and Ride; a peppy, Strokes-like bounce; and a singer who's a dead ringer for Ian Curtis."[17] Noel Murray of The A.V. Club stated that the band's virtue "lies in the way its music unfurls from pinched openings to wide-open codas."[18] Billboard wrote that Interpol had created "a homage to their particular vision of the '80s that stands proudly alongside the best of its idols."[19] Scott Seward, writing in The Village Voice, likewise gave Turn on the Bright Lights a favorable review and said of Interpol: "If I like them because they remind me of eating bad bathtub mescaline in the woods and listening to Cure singles, well, that'll do. You might like them for completely different reasons."[20]

In a three-star review of the album, Q described Turn On the Bright Lights as "predictably claustrophobic listening".[6] Robert Christgau, assigning the album as "Dud of the Month" in his Consumer Guide column for The Village Voice, felt that comparisons to Joy Division were "too kind" of an assessment for the band, who he felt "exemplify and counsel disengagement, self-seeking, a luxurious cynicism."[16]

Turn On the Bright Lights ranked at number 15 on The Village Voice's year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll for 2002.[21] The album gained so much critical success that not only was it hailed as one of the best debuts of 2002, but is considered by some to be one of the best and most influential records of the 2000s. Summing up the album's impact in a review of its 2012 re-issue, Matt LeMay of Pitchfork wrote: "Suggesting that this album is simply a product of its time and place is no less naive than suggesting that anyone who has ever been in love could easily write, arrange and record an amazing love song. There were a lot of good bands in New York in 2002, but only one band made this record."[3]


Publication Accolade Rank
Pitchfork 'Top 50 Albums of 2002' #1[22]
Pitchfork 'Top 100 albums 2000-2004' #3[23]
Pitchfork 'Top 200 albums of the 2000s' #20[24]
Stylus 'Top 20 Favourite Albums of 2002' #5[25]
Stylus 'Top 50 Albums 2000-2005' #6[26]
Stylus 'Top 100 Albums of the 2000s' #20[27]
NME 'Best Albums of 2002' #10[28]
NME '100 Greatest Albums of the Decade' #8[29]
NME '500 Greatest Albums of All Time' #130[30]
Rolling Stone '100 Best Albums of the Decade' #59[31]
Under the Radar 'Top 200 Albums of the Decade' #3[32]
Beats Per Minute 'Top 100 Albums of the Decade' #7[33]
eMusic '100 Best Albums of the Decade' #9
Lost At Sea '2000-2009: Albums of the Decade' #13[34]
The Irish Times 'Top 20 Albums of the Decade' #10[35]
Consequence of Sound 'Top 100 Albums of the Decade' #35[36]
musicOMH '21 Best Albums of the 2000s' #12

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Interpol.

No. Title Length
1. "Untitled" 3:56
2. "Obstacle 1" 4:11
3. "NYC" 4:20
4. "PDA" 4:59
5. "Say Hello to the Angels" 4:28
6. "Hands Away" 3:05
7. "Obstacle 2" 3:47
8. "Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down" 6:28
9. "Roland" 3:35
10. "The New" 6:07
11. "Leif Erikson" 4:00
Total length: 49:02

Bonus tracks on Australian edition[edit]

  • "Specialist" – 6:39

Bonus tracks on Japanese edition[edit]

Two different versions exist. One version has the following bonus tracks:

  • "Interlude" – 1:02
  • "Specialist" – 6:39

The other version has the following bonus tracks:

  • "Hands Away" (Peel session)
  • "Obstacle 2" (Peel session)
  • "PDA" (video)
  • "NYC" (video)
  • "Obstacle 1" (video)

Bonus tracks on Mexican edition[edit]

  • "Interlude" – 1:02
  • "Specialist" – 6:39
  • "PDA" (video)
  • "NYC" (video)
  • "Obstacle 1" (video)


Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2002) Peak
UK Albums Chart[37] 101
U.S. Billboard 200[38] 158
Chart (2003) Peak
U.S. Billboard Independent Albums[38] 5


Region Certification Shipments
United States (RIAA) Gold[2] 500,000


  1. ^ "Matador Records - Store". Matador Records official website. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum Program". RIAA.com. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b LeMay, Matt (December 4, 2012). "Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights: The Tenth Anniversary Edition". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ Pearce, Sheldon. "Interpol Announce Turn On the Bright Lights Anniversary Tour". Pitchfork. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Kershaw, Richard (14 February 2003). "Review / Interpol @ Astoria, 9/02/03". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c "Reviews for Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol". Metacritic. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  7. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Turn on the Bright Lights – Interpol". AllMusic. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  8. ^ Weiner, Jonah (September 2002). "Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights". Blender (9): 148. Archived from the original on October 25, 2004. Retrieved January 11, 2016. 
  9. ^ Serpick, Evan (August 23, 2002). "Turn on the Bright Lights". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  10. ^ Bronson, Kevin (September 8, 2002). "Solo Rambles in Different Directions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 30, 2015. 
  11. ^ Segal, Victoria (August 17, 2002). "Interpol: Turn On The Bright Lights". NME: 34. ISSN 0028-6362. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  12. ^ Carr, Eric (August 18, 2002). "Interpol: Turn On the Bright Lights". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  13. ^ Pearlman, Mischa (December 25, 2012). "Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights". Record Collector (409). Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  14. ^ Sheffield, Rob (August 14, 2002). "Turn On The Bright Lights". Rolling Stone. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  15. ^ Liedel, Kevin (December 19, 2012). "Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights: Tenth Anniversary Edition". Slant Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (April 1, 2003). "Consumer Guide: As Long As I Still Can". The Village Voice. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  17. ^ Chamy, Michael (September 6, 2002). "Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  18. ^ Murray, Noel (September 9, 2002). "Interpol: Turn On The Bright Lights". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights". Billboard. September 14, 2002. Archived from the original on September 11, 2002. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  20. ^ Seward, Scott (October 8, 2002). "Romeo's Tune". The Village Voice. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ "Top 50 Albums of 2002". 
  23. ^ "Top 100 Albums of 2000–2004". 
  24. ^ "Top 200 Albums of 2000s". 
  25. ^ "Top 20 Albums of 2002". 
  26. ^ "Top 50 Albums 2000–2005". 
  27. ^ "Top 100 Albums of 2000s". 
  28. ^ "Albums of 2002". 
  29. ^ "Top Albums of the 00s". 
  30. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". 
  31. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Decade". 
  32. ^ "Top 200 Albums of the Decade". 
  33. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 2000s". 
  34. ^ "2000-2009: Albums of the Decade". 
  35. ^ "Top 20 Albums of the Decade". 
  36. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the Decade". 
  37. ^ Rogers, Simon (19 November 2009). "NME's top 50 albums of the decade: how high did they get in the charts?". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  38. ^ a b "Turn On the Bright Lights - Interpol". Billboard. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 

External links[edit]