"Obstacle 2" was written before "Obstacle 1" for Interpol's debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights. The only correlation between the two songs is that they both ended a phase of writer's block the band had been experiencing for a few months. The song itself finds lead singer Paul Banks expressing his appreciation for a girl and letting her know that he's willing to change for her.
Interpol isn't all that concerned with titles, and they often have little to do with the actual song. The word "Obstacle" doesn't appear in this song; it was a working title lead singer Paul Banks came up with when guitarist Daniel Kessler was working on the song. The band thought it was a great title, so they used it.
The line: "I feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye, I think he's making something special and I'm smart enough to try" Could be a reference to the beginning line of Twelfth Night
by Shakespeare, which goes: "If music be the food of love, play on."
Alan - Harpenden
Paul Banks says that after Turn on the Bright Lights was released, he didn't listen to the album for a year. The songs on the album were written before September 11, 2001, but they didn't start recording until October. For the band, which is from New York City, this completely changed the tone of the project and made them re-evaluate some of the songs. With the album linked to that time period, Banks had a hard time revisiting it.
I'm gonna pull you in close
I'm gonna wrap you up tight
I'm gonna play with the braids that you came here with tonight
Peter Katis' production for this song was not to Interpol bassist Carlos Dengler's tastes. Paul Banks recalled to Q magazine in a 2017 interview:
"One thing that pissed the band off was when we did the Obstacle 2, the 'I'm going to pull you in close' line. I did something that's totally unconventional. We recorded my vocal with distortion on. Whereas, like, every other producer for every other song ever, it's like, 'Just sing it clean, so we can have options, and then I'll put distortion on. I said, 'No. No one should ever hear it that way. Print the distortion on my vocal and this is the vocal take.
Later when they heard the vocal, Carlos said, 'Can you turn the distortion down?' And Peter told them, 'Nah, there is no turning the distortion down. That's the vocal.' Carlos was pissed off."