After the instant success of their first two records, Interpol seemed to have taken badly to elevating to mainstream status. Their third album, Our Love to Admire, fell into the cliché of the difficult third album from a band with too much immediate success who perhaps needed to take a breather and lay off the partying for a few months. Onto their fourth album, and minus bass player Carlos D, it seems Interpol have run out of steam, hit a brick wall, or are perhaps in the midst of some existential crises. Whatever the reason, the suave New Yorker’s that brought sun-glasses and suits back to rock ‘n’ roll, have failed to deliver the goods on the strangely self titled Interpol.
Part of the charm of Interpol’s earlier work was their ability to compliment each other’s extraordinary musicianship; guided by a pounding rhythm section and screaming guitar lines in minor key, all of this cloaked in the backdrop of the slow drone of Bank’s downbeat vocals. Interpol’s music has always been about dark, paranoid, black holes, its message ambiguous, yet beautiful in its completeness, with its stop start signature sound that has influenced so many bands of the last decade.
The problem with this record is that there doesn’t seem to be any coherent destination in mind from start to finish. If the plan was to slow the tempo down and go for a more introspective sound, it may have worked if the songs were filled out some what. Instead, what we get on most of the tracks is singular guitar notes that seem to have no direction or melody, only to be complemented by the erratic dreary vocals of Paul Banks. While his lyrics may not have always been uplifting, or even all that much to write home about, the backing of the band behind him always made something seemingly melancholy, into a noise that often resembled ten amplifiers plugged into an aircraft taking off a runway. The latest record lacks that deafening thump that once defined the band’s sound.
On ‘Lights’, Banks seems to be just wallowing in self pity with no redemption in the music to back it up. While ‘Summer Well’, with the dreadful lyrics ‘I want to stay magical, I want to stay yummy’ really makes one question if this is the same band that brought out such stomping anthems as ‘Obstacle One’ and ‘Evil’. The simple answer is: it isn’t. Perhaps without their former bassist Carlos D, Interpol need to go back and do some soul searching. If the fifth record doesn’t map out a new era for Interpol, just count your blessings that they ever managed to make the first two.