Saturday, September 18, 2010

Album Review: Interpol


I was very taken with Interpol’s debut album, Turn On The Bright Lights. Sure it was very reminiscent of Joy Division and The Chameleons, but they did it so well. They distilled the essence of those bands into some snappy, soaring anthems. The album sounded fresh, and compulsive, and let’s face it most music originates from somewhere, right? However subsequent albums Antics and Our Love to Endure (ok, it was admire, but you get the point) delivered similar music with diminishing returns.

Black mark against them for the lazy self-titling of their album (see Stone Temple Pilots review: http://sacredcowpats.blogspot.com/2010/05/album-review-stone-temple-pilots.html). However, perhaps this was a sign of ‘back to basics’ style reinvention? Not so in my book.

Frankly I’m surprised it took them 3 years to come up with this. It sounds to me like Interpol have run out of steam. Paul Banks was never the most varied vocalist in the world, but here his vocal range is narrower than ever. Almost every track has him singing in the same semi-dramatic, slightly dark and slightly bored tone.

The rest of the band don’t really mine new territory, but even when they do, it’s mainly the addition of skittery keyboards which really don’t work at all. In fairness the more uptempo tracks aren’t bad (Barricades, Safe Without) but they aren’t particularly exciting. Barricades is probably the best track here as Banks sings with actual passion, as opposed to ennui. The slower ones plod like Interpol have never plodded before. Even the titles plod (Always Malaise, All of the Ways).

Apparently bassist Carlos Dengler has quit the band and has been replaced by David Pajo (Slint, Aerial M etc) which bodes well for a badly needed new direction. This musical avenue has proved to be a cul de sac. Maybe I’ve just grown tired of this band. Or maybe it’ll be better live (seeing them in December).