Dedicated to those songs that I can't stop playing, humming, or thinking about; the 4+ minutes you fall head-over-heels in love with. Past instances have included Beck's "Timebomb," New Order's "Age of Consent," and Black Sabbath's "N.I.B."
I don't pay close attention to lyrics. Not as a rule, although it might be a good one to have since it's served me well over my years to all but ensure my enjoyment of most rock music I hear. If you can willingly ignore most rock lyrics, it's much easier to fall in love with it. But in "Length of Love"'s case, not only did I not pay close attention, but when I thought I was paying attention, I got it wrong.
I was more mislead than I was foolish. Paul Banks starts out bemoaning how something could be destiny to his sweetheart and the music feels bittersweet at best, so how ridiculous would it be for me to assume he sings "Come back, salvation" in the chorus? It sounds reasonable to me. After finally reading the correct lyrics online (or, what I can assume to be the correct lyrics) I learned that he's actually saying "Complex. Salacious." And then "Removal," which I always kind of knew, but couldn't fit into my perfect little "Come back, salvation" world. Now on what must be my sixty-first listen of the day, I can hear the "S" at the end of "Salacious," but I'm a little down on it. I've lived for so long in the emotional howl of "Come back, salvation," that I've assigned more emotion to the false lyrics than I could ever hope to decipher from the actual ones.
I can only assume that these lyrics were chosen more for their cool cache than for their singability, and that's a shame. The chorus especially remains completely catchy and singable even after playing it nonstop in the car, on the bike, and on my computer. In fact, even when the song's not playing and I'm singing in the shower, I instinctively sing my "incorrect" version first.
For all the emotions they seem to utilize, Interpol has always felt like a very cerebral band to me. Maybe that's just my unfair analysis, having read about them before actually listening to them, but it's there now, and their music offers little to shake my odd categorization. I can blame them for all the cerebral, snob-pleasing word selections I want, but this particular fault lies with me. I made that choice, and now I'm living with it, and maybe that's why I respond so strongly to "Length of Love", because it feels like the least cerebral song Interpol has ever recorded (don't quote me on that).
Getting even more specifically non-cerebral, "Length" is a dance song. A dance song presumably created for people claiming to hate dance music, (which is to say "serious music fans"), but a dance song nonetheless. These serious music fans -- a group I call friends -- study music, dissect songs down to the sixteenth notes and often categorize music so much that when something appears out of its distinct setting, confusion sets in. Like when grocery stores play dance music over the speakers; do they want us to dance while picking out cucumbers, or is it just that a party atmosphere has been proven to be conducive for impulse shopping? But if we had our way, our favorite music would actually be the dance music for the simple fact that everyone loves dancing to their favorite music. We just live in a time period where music has been so fractured and categorized that this rarely happens. There's Club Music, Dance Music, Disco, Bar, Bar Rock, Live Rock, Live Bar Rock and Karaoke.
These categories have all been supplied cerebrally to music, but the music itself never lies, and right now "Length of Love"'s funky bass line and oh-so-close-to-four-on-the-floor drum beat are telling me it could flood any dance floor on the right night. There's even a single hand clap at 2:45 which betrays the song's true disco roots. For all its effort to create a complicated, brainy, emo-friendly song, Interpol really just managed to write the coolest Bee Gee's song of the last 10 years.
I was tempted to also call them out on the song's sparse instrumentation, but that would only scare them away from the dance floor. Looking up the tabulature for the song online, I discovered there are about 5 guitar notes in the entire tune. Don't let this fool you: if you think playing one note over and over is easy, ask yourself "What's the last thing I did repeatedly for four minutes?" I bet you didn't do it with any kind of accuracy.
I firmly believe this song could play in clubs today if it had been allowed to do so and/or pushed by the company. Any opposition from the dancers would only come from the fact that it doesn't have a processed vocal track, and is therefore "different" and therefore "scary." All it needs is a label and for people to properly misunderstand the chorus, and "Length of Love" has a new home.
Written By Phillip Mottaz