Monday, September 6, 2010
Interpol - "Interpol"
The new Interpol album comes out tomorrow. Its been up on their myspace page for some time now, streaming in all its glory. The album has been getting heavily criticized on various reputible blogs and music media outlets. Its not all hate but for the most part Interpol are going to continue to battle the ghosts of the seminal Turn On The Bright Lights. Since they announced a return to their original sound the expectations have been too great and while I think this album is maybe tied with or just ahead of Our Love To Admire (albeit very different) it still has much to celebrate. My least favorite Interpol album is still better than most of the drivel out there.
Some of the struggles stem out of the departure of Carlos D, the bassist responsible for the wonderful hooks on all the classic Interpol tunes. Not to mention his impeccable dress sense. He did play during the recording sessions but clearly didn't see the direction the album was going so rather than compromise he left. At least this is what I read, it could have been something completely different. However, its a minor blip because these songs still sound Interpol to me and thats enough. There are constant challenges for bands to maintain the sound that drew people to them in the first place. My favorite band struggled with it more than most after OK Computer but they kept the real fans and over time solidified their legacy. Our Love To Admire can be criticized as a departure from the Interpol sound but not this album. I think its classic Interpol. Elements of shoegaze, dreampop, ambient, all charged by the magic voice of Paul Banks. I have always believed a good vocalist can keep the fans coming back and this album is an example of why. It is missing the hooks, the big anthems, the dancefloor energy but it has Banks tinged with atmospherics, layers and the same edge we heard in the first album. Thats what pulls us back.
The songs have a lot of repetition and certainly build in the mix with more and more layers, horns, keys, atmospherics, and vocal samples . The leading 2 songs "Lights", and "Barricade" best exemplify this. And fittingly both songs sit in the first part of the record. I guess the fundamental sounding Interpol. The second part of the record sees a more operatic sound take hold and some deeper lyrical content including a bit of Spanish thrown in on "The Undoing", a closer that mixes between the two languages and samples some of Pauls own lyrics into the mix. Even with the two different styles the album flows perfectly and hits a peak right before the closing track. "All Of The Ways" is for me the emotional peak and the song would sound at home on any Interpol album, or even on Pauls solo effort Julian Plenti is Skyscraper. In fact I liken this album to that work more than Interpols last album.
Interpol fans should like this album, maybe even love it. Paul Banks continues to blow me away with his wonderful baritone voice and all of the atmosphere is still there, even if Carlos D's bass is turned down, a lot. Will new fans jump on board? I doubt it but that just means there is more for Interpol followers to keep for themselves including smaller venues and crowds that sing along. Loyalty is becoming more and more a rarity in music and if this is the direction Interpol want to go in (which is actually not really that different) then I'm along for the ride.
I haven't really listened deeply to the lyrics but does the line "I did not take to analysis so I had to make up my mind" refer to some of the recording sessions? Maybe his clash of ideas with Carlos D?