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album review: Interpol, interpol

Interpol are the darkly electric, cinematic kings of Indie. Brooding enchantment; they thrive on their distinctive sound and hold a true sense of purpose in a music world that is so quickly falling to cliché and generic riffs.  They simply stand alone.

Suave and musically gifted, it would be hard for Interpol to mess up entirely with their new self-titled album. Yet when this new record was recently released, I couldn’t help thinking that maybe it wouldn’t live up to my elevated expectations. And unfortunately, I was right.

In short, Interpol is a hard listen for any true Interpol fan. Every song echos Interpol’s past 13 years, minus the heart. It’s a sad thought that they may have exhausted that purpose that once made them so spectacular.

Musically, the songs shy away from those hooks and tension that moved us in earlier albums.  And Paul Banks’ distinctive, poetic lyrics of the past become uninspiring and bland. Once laden with such originality and spark, it’s surprising to be given an album of fillers from Interpol.

Despite this, Interpol are still, in my mind, the pinnacle of inventive, deliriously talented musicians. And Interpol does hold a touch of the old passion amongst the music, even if it is hidden very well.

With their earlier albums making me think and feel, now Interpol have me singing at the top of my lungs with songs in the first half such as Summer Well, Lights and Barricades. There’s nothing wrong with catchy songs, and these songs do well to break up the repetitiveness of Interpol, yet I’m not left with the excitement or impact their songs once brought me. And I don’t think anyone would turn to Interpol for catchy, one-dimensional music. There’s more to them than that.

Later in the album, listeners are grated with Banks’ voice and (I hate to say it) the album becomes dull. The Man I Am and Safe Without hold an edge above the rest, but the later songs Try It On, All of the Ways and The Undoing are monotonous and forgettable.

One major drawback of the new album is they no longer build up their songs and leave you waiting for the sensational climactic end; they just drag the climactic end out from start to finish, which is very unsatisfying. I won’t argue that the music itself doesn’t sound impressive on surface level, but that’s all the album has; a shallow surface level that fails to explore the depths of their previous works.

With a few more forced listens of Interpol, fans will start to appreciate the songs and maybe even love some amongst them. But if you are new to Interpol’s music, this album is definitely not going to convert you.

I must ask, how can the kings of introspection miss the mark on such a contemplative, moody album? Did Carlos Dengler, the band’s legendary bass player, choose to leave the band before they forget who they are completely?

Okay. So this album isn’t great. But we still have dozens of Interpol songs to fill ourselves with love and unrest. I can forgive them, just this one time.

(Image credits: 1.)

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