2007's Our Love To Admire brought lackluster success for the seemingly invincible Interpol. Though it was their first LP released on a major label – Capitol – it failed to inspire the swarms of fans and critics that had been praising their name since Interpol EP was in circulation. Their proper debut, Turn On The Bright Lights, was a pivotal album during the inception of the New York indie/punk scene of 2002, drawing comparisons to Joy Division and generating massive hype and radio play alike. Their sophomore effort, Antics, was no different, establishing Interpol as the next big thing in the New York rock scene. After now returning to Matador, the label that harvested the band's lush career, it would appear that Interpol, their self-titled fourth LP, is a return to where it all started; a return to that familiar Interpol sound, a return to their roots... It's not.
Interpol is hardly an epilogue to Turn On The Bright Lights nor a successor to Our Love To Admire; rather, an appropriately self-titled declaration that Interpol can do whatever they damn well please. Interpol is enigmatic; a means for the New Yorkers to experiment with contrasting sounds that aren't necessarily radio friendly. Releasing the climatic guitar laden “Lights” as a first single is a giant leap away from the mainstream; there are no pop anthems here like “PDA,” no endearing ballads like “NYC.” Paul Banks' vocals have become noticeably obscure, complimenting the dark temperamental undercurrent of “Success,” growing frantic and apprehensive on “Barricade.”
The piano plays a distinctive role though they've never really used it before, adding fortitude to troubled ballad “Always Malaise (The Man I Am),” character to “Summer Well.” The last fifteen minutes employ a gradual progression of impassioned rock, sleepy ballads and melancholy “The Undoing” where Banks sings in Spanish. The lack of bass heavy throwdowns is a conspicuous indicator that Interpol, now a trio, will be able to manage without beloved Chuck D (this will be his last stint with the group).
Many will criticize this record for its sluggish mannerisms, its lack to recreate anthems like “Slow Hands” or “Obstacle 1,” but Interpol is not about returning to the past, but about depth and maturity. Unlike their first three records, Interpol applies a certain perplexity; it's a grower, a departure to fresh waters. It's a provocative record of substance, like the triumphant Turn On The Bright Lights, though it sounds absolutely nothing like it.
76 — [Rating Scale]
Interpol - "Barricade"
Interpol - "Lights"