Interpol has been a defining band since the turn of the 21st century. The 1980s throwback glum rockers use gloomy atmospheres and complex metaphors to set a mood. Though some relate Paul Banks’ dark tone to that of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, their style is unmistakable.
‘Turn on the Bright Lights,’ Interpol’s first album, is widely considered a classic debut showcasing the band’s amazing chemistry. Now, with a chance to really put its stamp on the decade, Interpol’s third album arrives after its more pop-driven release ‘Antics.’ It is more of the same with an ambitious ending, even if it doesn’t quite stack up to the band’s first two albums.
‘Our Love To Admire’ is reminiscent of its first effort with the dark ‘Pioneer to the Falls’ and signature Banks lyrics: ‘Show me the dirt pile and I will pray / That the soul can take / Three stowaways.’
The song moves slowly until a trademark feverish solo, and then continues along as it was. ‘No I in Threesome’ is as breezy and carefree as Interpol gets. ‘The Scale’ uses the same catchy riff throughout, and Banks’ voice powers through the entire track.
‘Pace is the Trick’ is not only a throwback to ‘Antics,’ but also encompasses the beginning of ‘Our Love to Admire.’ The opening notes make you feel like you are listening to the older album all over again, and it closes with nearly the exact notes that close the Interpol classic ‘Not Even Jail.’
The last two tracks show Interpol’s new direction. Taking advantage of the strings introduced to enhance its major label debut, ‘Wrecking Ball’ has an amazing buildup. Complete with strings and brass, the song showcases the band members pouring all they have into a perfectly suited conclusion. Paul’s back-masking to close the track is a beautiful touch. ‘Lighthouse’ highlights Banks’ voice along with a trembling guitar. The last minute feels like it might become blissful, but it just fades out.
‘Our Love to Admire’ gives us more of the same, and while it is good, you can’t help but feel that they are holding back. The biggest flaw is the lack of a rhythm section. Carlos Dengler’s bass lines came off as a third guitar in the previous albums rather than a bass following the dominant guitars. Sam Fogarino’s drumming feels much less versatile here compared to the guitars of Banks and Daniel Kessler. Still, the guitars control the album.
The hooks are catchy enough to make it enjoyable. There is no doubt that Interpol is at its finest when the entire band is involved. With this sound, the band members have combined their unique mystique developed from the ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ era, the catchy charm that expanded their popularity with ‘Antics’ and the quiet experimentation they use to end the album.
However, it feels like they are trying to satisfy the masses rather than expanding musically. While this album is good enough to satisfy the Interpol faithful, less-serious fans will likely be yearning for the distinction between Interpol as a good band with a narrow sound to Interpol as a great band with an unlimited range.