What if Ian Curtis had hooked up with Will Sergeant instead of Bernard Sumner?
That seems to be the question that Interpol was trying to answer with “PDA,” the one — to cynical old me, anyways — undeniable track from their much-acclaimed 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights.
And, if I’m going to be honest here, the only reason I love “PDA” is the coda. Sure, it’s a cool drumbeat, and sure sure, the guitars are reliably stabbing on top of each other in a slightly dissonant way. And sure sure sure, Paul Banks is joylessly divisioning about 200 couches or some such thing, and it all sounds great.
But not world-beating. Not until after the second chorus, where out of nowhere, “PDA” restarts from a completely different dimension.
First, it’s one guitar pulsing like a radio signal from a distant galaxy, and then the bass comes in, playing rings around that initial guitar, and then a second guitar starts chiming in like it has the secrets of life, the universe and everything — the 42 guitar — and then the drums kick back in, and there are more and more guitars, a whole vast infinite universe of perfectly-calibrated guitars singing in perfect harmony, and even Paul Banks is so moved he tosses aside his Ian Curtis mask and sings in his own voice:
Something to say
Something to do
Nothing to say
There’s nothing to do
But because he’s singing in the middle of infinity, he’s lost, drowned out, barely even heard in the middle of the beautiful cacophony his band is making.
I really didn’t get Turn on the Bright Lights, but I played it a lot just to get to the last two minutes of PDA, because for just those couple of minutes, everything was right with the universe.
Amazingly enough, there doesn’t seem to be a full studio version of “PDA” on YouTube, because of course not.
“PDA” performed live in 2005
“PDA” (outro only)
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