Interpol’s “Untitled” kicks off what I still consider to be one of the best debut albums of the twenty-first century — their 2002 debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights — in spectacular fashion. In a manner similar to Washed Out’s “Amor Fati,” it’s simply a stunningly beautiful and majestic song. Interpol got everything just right: the tempo, sonic wash, and Paul Banks’ remarkable voice, not far removed from Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, combine to create a perfect mood piece. The lyrics are no more than 5 lines, repeated, so its meaning is entirely in the mind of the beholder; it’s all in how the atmosphere of the song hits you. The deep reverb of the intro guitar, the bass line, and the descending guitar “shot” leave a lasting impression long after the song has ended.
“Untitled” is a perfect leadoff track for an album — you couldn’t possibly stop listening after hearing a song like that — but achieving that sort of peak so early in your career can have its downsides. It set such a high bar for Interpol that they have never quite been able to reach it again outside of Turn on the Bright Lights.