Interpol – Interpol Interpol – Interpol

Interpol - Interpol

Interpol - Interpol

Precipitate EP.  If there’s one positive thing I can say about Interpol’s latest self titled album, it is that it has spurred me to more fully investigate their back catalogue. Already a big fan of the band, I came across Precipitate EP, a privately released four track EP, limited to 500 copies, which was sold a year before the seminal Turn On The Bright Lights, surely the best thing that Interpol will ever lend their name to. It’s frustrating because being an avid Interpol fan requires a certain determination. There will for instance always be detractors- Interpol are probably one of the least charismatic bands I could name off the bat, their lyrics are at best obtuse, and their “hits” are far from instantly gratifying. It also requires determination because let’s face it; it’s not a very diverse sound in itself that these guys have to work with. It’s gloomy, dark, and claustrophobic at the best of times. Yet these traits are what makes Interpol such a rewarding listen after repeated listens and eventually what makes fans love them. It’s strange then, that Interpol have managed to go so badly wrong on an album that is exactly that- Gloomy, dark, and claustrophobic.

Interpol announced back in May that key member and bassist Carlos Dengler was leaving the band, after having recorded his parts for the self titled. It later emerged that Carlos D’s heart hadn’t really been in it ever since recording Our Love To Admire. Turn On The Bright Lights still contains some of the best bass guitar parts on an indie album to this day; Carlos D’s ability to go his own way with his instrument yet not steal the song away was a key part of that albums success, and boy, is his lack of heart evident here. One of Interpol’s vital strengths now sounds like it’s only here because it needs to be, instead of driving the gloomy sound forward with certain vitality. Interpol has very much been recorded and written as an album- meant to flow as one rather than say, a record of singles as Antics was. This in itself throws up an instant problem- there’s no singles. Call it a bit selfish on the part of the listener, but I for one enjoyed Antics. It wasn’t as sinister or whole as it’s’ predecessor, but hey, that was never going to be followed up flawlessly.

So there’s no singles, fine. As long as it flows seamlessly as one and communicates some overarching message, right? In this case unfortunately not. The first half isn’t too bad. “Success” is actually the closest in sound to classic Interpol on here; as if we’ve just been caught in-between Our Love To Admire and Interpol, sporting such couplets as, “Dreams of long life/ What safety can you find?” It’s Carlos D at his best on the album, which is telling. “Memory Serves” is the most straightforward attempt at a love song by the band, as Paul Banks purrs, “It would be so nice to take you/I only ever tried to make you smile”. “Lights” serves as the best track on the album, if only because it proves so linear, and it brings a certain realization; with such a small sound to operate in, perhaps Interpol had better stick to a less is more approach rather than reinventing the wheel. The beauty of going back and discovering Precipitate EP and others is rediscovering the relatively simple song structures and the straightforward relationship between rhythm guitar and lead guitar- Not the overblown pomp of numbers such as “Always Malaise (The Man I Am)” or the lightweight “Safe Without”.  Even these aforementioned strengths are clutches at straws, not even “Lights” nor the brooding “Barricade” are comparable to what this band has achieved before, except maybe on Our Love To Admire.

I repeat, being an Interpol fan requires a certain amount of determination. Interpol’s discography has been one that has been on a steady decline. When fans were faced with 2007’s Our Love To Admire, we all knew it was a long way from what had come before, but stuck with it. Interpol’s work does after all usually take some time to set in. So fans stuck with it, listening again and again, hoping that upon the next full play it would all finally “click”. But after an even weaker follow up, I’m not sure that I want to have to trawl through this several more times.

It’s not enough Interpol. Not anymore.

Interpol - Interpol, reviewed by Lemon on 2010-09-20T16:08:12-07:00 rating 2.0 out of 5

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