NARC presentation mentioned in Brazilian HowStuffWorks

The editor of the Brazilian HowStuffWorks, Silvio Anaz, contacted me a little while ago to ask if he could reference my work on NARC in his article on Interpol. For you Portuguese-speakers out there, the entire article can be found via the link below. I’ve included an English translation of the portion that mentions me, with thanks to Cristina in Brazil (“hazey jane” on the Interpol message board) for her hard work – and thanks to Silvio for the mention!

Interpol and songs that revive the post-punk of the 80’s

Songs that cause a fusion of reason and sensuality in the listeners, something that many people make an effort to have in their lives. This could be the secret of the success of Interpol’s songs with the public, according to the academic work of the theorist Meghann Wilhoite, of the University of Columbia, in New York (U.S.A.).

Many of the lyrics by Paul Banks express a concern with the body, with its needs and physical sensations. Besides this, his verses are open to multiple interpretations that cause intellectual endeavours of listeners because of the multiple meanings and narratives permitted by the poetic construction of words. Something that also contributes to this, according to Wilhoite, is the highly orchestral sound used by the band, as well as the cyclical movement of harmony and melody in songs that can be repeated infinitely.

The process of composition of many of Interpol’s songs seems fairly democratic. According to the band’s members, a song starts from a progression of chords presented by guitarist Daniel Kessler and undergoes several alterations of direction with the contributions of bass player Carlos D and drummer Sam Fogarino. Alongside this, vocalist Paul Banks works on the lyrics while the rest of the song is in development, and he only finalizes them after the music (harmony, melody and rhythm) of the song has been finished.

In their work, Interpol approaches compositions with persistently repetitive rhythms and a sombre, cold resonance. In the lyrics written by Banks, which are occasionally criticised as banal, the writer [Banks] actually uses several poetic devices as mentioned in Wilhoite’s studies, such as metaphors, simile and synecdoche, the latter being a sophisticated mechanism of language that uses a part to describe the whole.

In the song “Narc” from the album “Antics”, the metaphor is to do with a type of federal agent from North America whose job is to battle drug trafficking, called a “narc”, who is skilled in infiltration using many forms of disguise and specializes in the techniques of manipulating others. In a similar way, the song is about a loving relationship, in which the protagonist in “Narc” appears like a hunter lying in wait, with requests that manipulate his object in an elaborate way, as in this example in the third stanza:

Feast your eyes, I’m the only one
Control me, console me
‘Cause that’ s just how it should be done
Oh, all your history’s like fire from a busted gun
I show some love and respect
Don’t wanna get a life of regret

In “No I in Threesome” from the album “Our Love to Admire”, Interpol speaks about the love of a three-way that is best shown the first verses:

Through the storms and the light
Baby, you stood by my side
And life is wine
But there are days in this life
When you see the teeth marks of time
Two lovers divide
Sound meets sound, babe
The echoes they surround
And all that we need is one thing
Now what is there it to you allow?
Babe, it’s time we give something new a try
Oh, alone we may fight
So, just let us be three

With a tone hardly monosyllabic both in the instruments and voice, there is a resonance of sombreness in the tone of the song, but it is also danceable, as the song brings lyrics that can be interpreted like a suggestion of sex for three (or that the protagonists have a kid?), but wrapped up in a melancholic atmosphere and also a certain despair.

The success of Interpol’s songs is actually a proof that the melancholic pop style, expressed in rather depressive, pessimistic lyrics, but with a danceable sound, kept its place in this Renaissance of rock music in the new millennium.


~ by megwilhoite on March 19, 2008.

One Response to “NARC presentation mentioned in Brazilian HowStuffWorks”

  1. Congratulations!

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