For Fans Of
When a band releases a self-titled album that is not their debut it’s quite a bold statement. It can be interpreted as the band saying, “Ok, this album is the most accurate representation of what we stand for and therefore deserves only our name to reflect that’’. In line with this mentality is New York’s Interpol, who have resurfaced with an overtly dark and melancholy batch of post-punk tunes for their self-titled, fourth studio album. It’s trademark Interpol for sure, but does it deserve its symbolic title? The answer lies in one of the band’s most challenging albums to date.
Put simply, this album is a real slow burner. Interpol requires a lot of patience and a few spins as this time the band is delving ever deeper into the murky depths of their atmospheric blend of alternative rock. Compared to their previous albums, the tone is more solemn than ever and the obvious pop moments are fleeting. The New York rockers are testing their fans with dense, introspective songs that focus on brooding atmospherics and subtle melodies rather than radio-friendly credibility (with the possible exception of single `Barricade’). Long-time fans will enjoy hearing the influence of their debut Turn On The Bright Lights linger throughout. However, unlike their acclaimed debut- a product of its time which found a balance between upbeat indie spark and mellow emotional rock- listeners may become disorientated by this album’s less focused moments that border on dreary meandering, evident in the gloomy aimless wonder of `Always Malaise (The Man I Am)’ and `Safe Without’.
Nevertheless, Interpol’s decision to release this album through their own label, Soft Limit, has clearly granted them creative freedom to take it in a direction of their choice. There is no major label breathing down their necks, pushing them to conform to a certain formula or sound. Rather the band experiments with songs including `Lights’, which is not an obvious choice as a single upon first listen, but does eventually lead the listener on a dazzling aural journey that culminates in a crescendo of thick instrumentation and Paul Banks’ repetitious cry of “that’s why I hold you near’’.
`Memory Serves’ and later cuts including `All Of the Ways’ and `The Undoing’ are long, dark passages punctuated by Paul Banks’ baritone singing, guitarist Daniel Kessler’s delay-driven riffs, Sam Fogarino’s drumming and the sturdy bass of recently departed member Carlos Dengler (who left upon competition of the album). While these songs may lack the instantly memorable pop of `Evil’ from Antics or `The Heinrich Maneuver’ from Our Love To Admire, their charm resides in moody ambiance and soaring melodies that grow with every subsequent listen to the album.
Stylistically, an increase in Interpol’s use of keys and piano also breathes new life into the band’s sound and is used to intensify the moments of drama and elation. This is a welcome addition to `Try It On’- which revolves around a stumbling piano melody- and the unusually perky intro to `Summer Well’.
This album is neither a step forward nor a step backwards for Interpol– it’s more of cautious sidestep to allow the band to reassess their position in today’s alternative music scene. It adheres to their renowned post-punk style, but its sprawling, dark compositions often lack the infectious hooks that made their previous albums memorable. It’s trademark Interpol for sure, but in contrast with previous achievements, it falls short of its effort to epitomize the best elements of the band.
2. Memory Serves
3. Summer Well
6. Always Malaise (The Man I Am)
7. Safe Without
8. Try It On
9. All of the Ways
10. The Undoing