On the heels of Skyscraper’s relaunch, we’ll be reviewing a number of records from mid-to-late 2010 that we missed out on covering during our semi-hiatus. Sort of a “what we missed” series of reviews, emphasizing both some of the best releases of 2010 and some of the year’s most interesting but overlooked records. This is one of those.
For their eponymous fourth album, New York City’s Interpol are back on Matador, the label that put out the group’s staggering first two records, Turn On The Bright Lights (2002) and Antics (2004). Those albums were perfect updates of classic British post-punk, drawing from the likes of Joy Division, The Chameleons, and Kitchens of Distinction, with elemental rumbling-bass and, of course, plenty of guitar effects. In addition, the band looked sharp in their vintage black suits. Simply put, they were a really cool band.
Scoring a major label deal seemed inevitable. And, while Interpol’s sole effort for Capitol Records, Our Love To Admire (2007), wasn’t an artistic sell out — it’s, actually, quite a strong record — the situation wasn’t ideal. According to an excellent interview with drummer Sam Fogarino in the most recent issue of The Big Takeover, the Capitol situation was somewhat stifling for the band’s creativity. Freed from the major label shackles, so to speak, Fogarino talks about his group’s renewed energy in their recording process. Sadly, though, one has a hard time finding much in the final results here. Simply put, Interpol doesn’t break much new ground and doesn’t recapture many of the heights found in the group’s best work.
The new album comes across as a pastiche of the band’s work over the years – a greatest hits approach without too many hits. Interpol opens on a high note with the pounding “Success,” a fantastic number containing everything one might expect and love from the group with its moody bass line, building tension, and Paul Banks’ catchy chorus. Likewise, “Lights” features some scintillating Chameleons-esque guitar magic. But highlights like these, unfortunately, are few and far between. The pre-release single, “Barricade,” sums up most of Interpol. It’s pretty good musically, but contains too few hooks and is void of drama. When the group tries to stretch out on slow burning atmospheric tracks “All The Ways” and “The Undoing,” it comes across as a lackluster attempt to be more like Radiohead. “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” this is not.
This would-be triumphant return to Matador ends up being more like something you’d put on quietly in the background while enjoying wine with friends, or doing your homework if you’re a hip high school kid. One hopes Interpol can, at some point, recapture the magic and inspiration found among their earlier works.Visit: Interpol | Matador
Purchase: Insound | eMusic