Reviewed by Brett Thorne.
|Rating: 7.5 of 10.|
Interpol has been one of the most polarizing bands of the indie music bubble since they released their debut Turn On the Bright Lights in 2002. The band, composed of Paul Banks, Carlos D, Sam Fogarino and Daniel Kessler, garnered comparisons to Joy Division early on, much to the chagrin of its well-dressed members. While some chose to compare, others yelled “Rip off!”
The band released Antics in 2004. The album was a commercial success, selling 350,000 copies in its first four months.
Ah, the days when people bought music.
Our Love to Admire, the band’s third studio album, was considered by many (including members of the band) to be a disappointment. Songs like “Heinrich Maneuver” and “Pioneer to the Falls” hinted at the taut, dense tunes from Antics and Bright Lights but many of the songs fell flat.
With Interpol, the band promised a return to the reverby, guitar-driven sounds of its first album, then reneged on that promise, declaring that it would have a lot of “classical stuff going on.”
The bottom line? This certainly isn’t Interpol’s version of Metallica’s S&M collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, but Bright Lights it is not. The fact is, it’s a new Interpol album and it continues a few threads the band started on Our Love while rarely reaching as far back as Bright Lights and Antics. The overall experience on Interpol is about as satisfying as its predecessor.
“Lights” is a slow-building jam that closes with an epic refrain of “That’s why I hold you, that’s why I hold you here.” The song takes a while to get off the ground, but when it does it reaches one of the high points of the album. As with any Interpol song (except for the unfortunately named “No I In Threesome” from Our Love, which is about exactly what its title suggests), I have no idea what this song is about. But when Banks shouts “That’s why I hold you, that’s why I hold you here” for the last time, I get a little chill down my spine. Then I watch the video for the song and get confused.
“Barricade,” the album’s first single, sees Kessler and Banks interweaving angular guitar lines a la Antics. The chorus is also one of the rare times Banks reels his voice in from the operatic style he has begun to favor over the course of the band’s last two albums. Banks’ melodies are becoming more and more fluid, losing much of the staccato bark that marked Antics. His new nasal, operatic vocal style can be a bit taxing, though it has probably worked to stop the Ian Curtis comparisons.
“Try It On” hints at minimalism with a repetitious five-note piano line that continues throughout the entire song. A snappy hi-hat and snare beat, moody guitars and layers of Banks’ melodies and counter-melodies are thrown into the mix so that by the end of the song, there is a wall of sound. Each element fades out, save for a few electronic blips that usher in the beginning of the next track, “All of the Ways.”
Gone are the tension-filled moments that marked (and totally validated) a lot of their early material. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will probably never get anything like the instrumental closing of “Public Pervert,” with its massive drums and lumbering guitar line, from this band ever again. I will probably never get the kind of 100 words per minute verses that marked songs like “Evil.”
So Interpol is not the career-defining album that the eponymous title might imply, but it’s still a pretty satisfying listen.