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[Matador; 2010]

By ; September 7, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

At this point, you know what you’re getting with an Interpol record. The New York group’s eponymous fourth album does little to stray from its established formula: a chugging rhythm, some steely, Joy Division-aping guitars, and Paul Banks’ distinctive baritone. Interpol separated itself from the pack in 2002 by going for early-‘80s postpunk when the other heavily-hyped New York band of its time, the Strokes, went for the Velvet Underground. Eight years and a few too many She Wants Revenges later, the novelty has worn off and all we have to go on is the strength of the songs. Interpol’s first two records (and about half of their third) hold up remarkably well—what Interpol lack in originality they make up for in the ability that craft songs that stick with you. If you weren’t a fan already, the record isn’t going to convert you. The other half of that statement should be “…but if you’re a fan, you’ll love it,” except I don’t think that’s accurate. I’m an Interpol fan, and this album doesn’t have a lot I feel like going back to. For all its unevenness, 2007’s Our Love to Admire had a handful of songs (“Pioneer to the Falls” and “Rest My Chemistry” in particular) I still like three years later. Interpol is more consistent—consistently forgettable, that is.

Even the best songs here (“Memory Serves,” “Lights”) would be filler on Turn on the Bright Lights or Antics. “Success” and “Always Malaise (The Man I Am)” take the first minute that most good Interpol songs would spend building to something resembling a hook and stretch it out to four or five minutes. This is the pattern on most of Interpol, and the result is an unsatisfying collection of ideas that need to be developed into songs. The music sounds mighty impressive at surface level (Daniel Kessler can still rip off the Edge as well as anyone), but they don’t hold up to any kind of closer scrutiny. They may be going for “dark and brooding,” but all they’re coming up with here is “dull and boring.”

Banks’ Ian Curtis-meets-Morrissey drone is remarkably effective when armed with a song as good as “Evil” or “Obstacle 1.” However, when left to flail around without a real hook, he can be pretty damn grating, accentuating the monotony of the music rather than counterbalancing it. The closest he comes to sounding like his old, enjoyable self is on the single “Barricade,” but that’s only because that song has a melody you might remember when the record is done.

Listening to Interpol, it’s easy to see why bassist Carlos Dengler quit—the new album makes painfully clear that the Interpol formula has been worked dry. Everything this band does can be heard, to much more flattering effect, on their first two records, as well as in places on Our Love to Admire. This one is just overkill.


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