Subconsciously, the first listening of a new album by one of your favourite bands might instill a feeling of anxiety, leaving you longing for a rehash of earlier material to satisfy your original love for the band. Fans of the New York based indie rock outfit Interpol may do just this, having 2007’s critically disappointing Our Love To Admire fresh in their ears.Â Thankfully, as is often the case with Interpol, this new offering continues to surprise, impress and mesmerise the more you listen to it.
Ok, so in terms of sound, Interpol isn’t far removed from it’s predecessors; a heavy consistent rhythm section coupled with shimmering guitars, and covered with smirking vocals. But, despite giving the band an identity, this signature sound has been updated in places. For example, in ‘Always Malaise (The Man I Am)’, the conventional Interpol set-up is challenged by the shifting mood and rhythm carried over by the layering of harmonies. The band appear to have also branched out and dabbled with piano effects and electronics to achieve a fresh sound. These new effects give the track, and indeed the album as a whole, a lighter tone, albeit with heavier lyrics.
As the listener crawls through this collection, it becomes clear early on that more is going on here than the regular playful and witty themes found on 2004’s Antics and the aforementionedÂ Our Love To Admire. It is almost as if vocalist Paul Banks has taken a more personal outlook to the band’s songwriting in order to create a contrast to the lifted tone. Towards the beginning of the album in ‘Memory Serves’, Banks uses thoughts and memories to discover that he has been wrong: “Tonight a special memory serves me, and I’ll play to find that I’m gray”. Along with the dark sense of loss in the album’s flagship single ‘Lights’, “All that I see, peaceful life’s run away from me, run away from me”, the suggestion can be made that Banks has chosen this album to bare his soul and plead for an absolution of some kind. This quality cements Interpol as the band’s most personal and honest album to date.
As the fan’s impression of the new album moves on from the initial anxiety, one thing must be noted. Interpol is a grand effort by the band, and truly displays their more personal and emotional side in an oddly enchanting manner. But, speaking as a fan, this writer has to argue that Interpol’s previous works stand more of a chance of lingering in the mind and heart, with their cheeky wit and glorious instrumentation highlighting a distinct charm within which tends to be lost amongst this latest, more tender offering.
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