Review : Interpol - Interpol
AllmusicA lot about Interpol suggests that it's a statement of purpose, from its eponymous title to the fact that it was released by Matador, where the band released its best material. There is a certain back-to-basics feel about the album: producer Alan Moulder strips away much of Our Love to Admire's lavish sheen and gives the band a more muscular attack by pushing the rhythm section to the fore — especially fitting since bassist Carlos Dengler left the band shortly after finishing Interpol — and the album clocks in at a relatively concise 10 songs in 45 minutes. However, like many things about this band, it's not quite that simple. Interpol spends the first half of the album shoring up their strengths, particularly well on "Barricade." With its killer opening line "I did not take to anaylsis/So I had to make up my mind" and taut interplay between Dengler's bass and Daniel Kessler's guitar, it feels like it could have appeared on Turn on the Bright Lights; even the name harks back to "Obstacle 1," though this feels more like a response to that song than a rehash of it. At other times, the band feels like they're consciously trying craft Interpol songs. "Success"' down-turning melody and the sexual undercurrent that permeates lyrics like "Summer Well"'s "The fevered plastics that seal your body/they won't stop this rain" come from dog-eared pages of the band's playbook. Despite the direct sonics, many of these songs aren't especially immediate; even the single "Lights" is more insistent than catchy, with a drilling riff that builds into a dark meditation on love and control. Interpol's second half is more intriguing, giving Our Love to Admire's ambition a tighter focus. "Always Malaise (The Man I Am)" is thrilling, reaffirming Interpol's status as masters of ambivalent love songs as it switches between major and minor keys as quickly as a tempestuous relationship goes from sweet to sour and back again. They get even bolder on the album's closing trilogy, as well they should — by this point, Banks, Dengler and drummer Sam Fogarino had all embarked on projects that showed they had more range than they were displaying in their main band. Indeed, the looping keyboards and precise beats of "Try it On" recalls Banks' work as Julian Plenti, and by the time trilogy culminates with the surprisingly spiritual "The Undoing," the band sounds fresher than they have in some time. Ultimately, Interpol isn't a statement of purpose as much as it is the end of an era for the band: With Dengler gone and back on their original label, they have the ability, and perhaps necessity, to go in any direction they choose....full text
OnethirtybpmPosted by Sean Highkin on 07 September 2010
At this point, you know what you’re getting with an Interpol record. The New York group’s eponymous fourth album does little to stray from its established formula: a chugging rhythm, some steely, Joy Division-aping guitars, and Paul Banks’ distinctive baritone. Interpol separated itself from the pack in 2002 by going for early-‘80s postpunk when the other heavily-hyped New York band of its time, the Strokes, went for the Velvet Underground. Eight years and a few too many She Wants Revenges later, the novelty has worn off and all we have to go on is the strength of the songs. Interpol’s first two records (and about half of their third) hold up remarkably well—what Interpol lack in originality they make up for in the ability that craft songs that stick with you. If you weren’t a fan already, the record isn’t going to convert you. The other half of that statement should be “…but if you’re a fan, you’ll love it,” except I don’t think that’s accurate. I’m an Interpol fan, and this album doesn’t have a lot I feel like going back to. For all its unevenness, 2007’s Our Love to Admire had a handful of songs (“Pioneer to the Falls” and “Rest My Chemistry” in particular) I still like three years later. Interpol is more consistent—consistently forgettable, that is.
Even the best songs here (“Memory Serves,” “Lights”) would be filler on Turn on the Bright Lights or Antics. “Success” and “Always Malaise (The Man I Am)” take the first minute that most good Interpol songs would spend building to something resembling a hook and stretch it out to four or five minutes. This is the pattern on most of Interpol, and the result is an unsatisfying collection of ideas that need to be developed into songs. The music sounds mighty impressive at surface level (Daniel Kessler can still rip off the Edge as well as anyone), but they don’t hold up to any kind of closer scrutiny. They may be going for “dark and brooding,” but all they’re coming up with here is “dull and boring.”
Banks’ Ian Curtis-meets-Morrissey drone is remarkably effective when armed with a song as good as “Evil” or “Obstacle 1.” However, when left to flail around without a real hook, he can be pretty damn grating, accentuating the monotony of the music rather than counterbalancing it. The closest he comes to sounding like his old, enjoyable self is on the single “Barricade,” but that’s only because that song has a melody you might remember when the record is done....full text
PitchforkAs the post-modern world rapidly rushes off to redefine itself for a new generation, the only certainty is the disorientation left in its wake; the stimulus avalanche we're now subjected to on a daily basis is just too much for many of us to capably grapple with. The Information Age is moving us, step by precious step, towards complete omniscience. But of course, the closer we come to one another artificially, the further disconnected we become in the physical world. Interpol, in the scant three tracks of their debut EP for Matador Records, may not be the first to address these themes of distance and loss, but given the present state of our society, these anxieties seem more relevant now than at any point since the dawn of the post-punk era.
Like an antidote to the po-mo dilemma, Interpol convey all the ache of isolation and being driven apart from those you care about in just fifteen minutes, then do themselves one better by suffusing each track with an unmistakable serenity, reckoning with the problem. It's a credit to these unsung talents from the wilderness of New York that they've been able to craft an EP of such power and grace that all I'm left with is the pseudo-intellectual drivel you just waded through. So enough of my crappy armchair philosophy. This mercilessly brief offering is a tiny, self-contained opus of need and longing, damn near perfect in its haunted malaise. And before I go on, let me also note that it's only three dollars. Sweet Jesus, I dare you to give me a reason to pass on this disc, barring Mafia-related coercion or presidential mandate.
Interpol is often compared to the late, great Joy Division, and at a glance, it's not hard to see why. But with deeper analysis, the likening is ridiculous-- Interpol has more in common with the hazy-sweet drones of Clinic or the propulsive rhythms and jangling guitars of Mission of Burma than any of Ian Curtis' brooding dirges. Superficially, Paul Banks does sound somewhat similar to Curtis, but only in his compelling delivery-- not his actual voice-- and certainly not enough to warrant the comparison. It's only after careful meditation that the underlying truth becomes clear: Interpol are reminiscent of Joy Division in atmosphere and brutal conviction alone....full text
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