Well, they're now five albums old but one of the most influential (in both good and bad ways) bands to stumble from NYC in the last 15 years are back with their anagram-tastic new big record. The lead track from this, "All the Rage Back Home", is a strangely addictive blast of energising emo-tinged radio-rock that totally retains that oh-so-very-special Interpol essence and their eternal debt to underrated Brit outsiders Kitchens of Distinction is still apparently a major factor in their sonic appeal. Whether there are more gems to be found on 'El Pintor' (jeez...) is something to anticipate. It's always gonna be an uphill struggle for these lads after that flawless debut......
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The thing is…..I like Interpol. I loved ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’, quite liked ‘Antics’, loved ‘Our Love to Admire’ and even kept on enjoying them when they lost the ability to title their albums properly. 2010’s ‘Interpol’ had enough good moments to keep me going but you did always get the sense they were running out of ideas of what to do next. Four years later they’ve had enough time to write a few songs and to decide not to bother dealing with the double whammy of having two bassists depart and to become a three piece. One of the joys of the band was the interaction between the four of them so something has been lost on the way which is noticeable on ‘El Pintor’. Opener All The Rage Back Home’ is somewhat rushed sounding - like the band are desperate to get to the end of the track as swiftly as possible. ‘My Desire’ could have come off any of their previous albums, refining their signature post- punk sound (one which they pretty much kick started the resurgence of) though its rather heavy on the gothy keyboards and goes on a little too long for my liking.
And so the story of the album is pretty much set. If you like Interpol, you’ll like it. ‘Anywhere’ is a punchy three minute affair that just lacks a killer melody, ‘Same Town New Story’ is the first track where they calm down and let the song develop somewhat and its all the better for it. There doesn’t seem to be quite the sense of space as on previous albums, one production issue that’s bothering me is the use of keyboards. There are plenty of additional keyboard trills which are not necessary on ‘My Blue Supreme’ and you feel like shouting “just let the songs breathe lads” over the din.
Interpol aren’t going to do a Radiohead and re-invent themselves, they’ve hit a formula which they repeat here to serviceable effect and there are plenty of enjoyable moments throughout. Also a note to mastering engineers - don’t compress records like this too hard - it just hurts everyone’s ears. If we like it - we’ll turn it up. Ok?
4/10 Andrew Revis Customer review, 20th February 2015
When Interpol appeared back in 2002, fully-formed and with a sound all of their own, they immediately set themselves apart from that New York 'rock resurgence' scene of The Strokes, The Rapture, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Longwave, and all those other cool dudes in sunglasses. They had depth and drama, a simple, clean, tightly-focused sound, Paul Banks' monotone voice and Daniel Kessler's stark guitar; and, with debut Turn On The Bright Lights, they had one of the decade's finest albums up their sleeves.
Following the overwhelming critical and commercial success of Turn On The Bright Lights they gave us the somewhat plodding Antics, the discerningly dull Our Love To Admire and the utterly pointless, dreary self-titled fourth record. Twelve long years after that momentous debut and we arrive at El Pintor. Now bassless following Carlos Dengler's departure, vocalist Banks takes up four-string duties for this, the band's fifth effort.
And it all starts oh so promisingly: All The Rage Back Home is vintage Interpol, sprightly and urgent, the bass driving the song to its murky 'I keep falling...' chorus refrain. But as with Lights on album number four, this one track stands out in an album of mundanity and tedium. Interpol still haven't found all the hooks they misplaced five or more years ago. Nine more tracks and you'll be forgiven for having stolen forty winks.
Another major issue is that the band haven't really developed in any way. I mean they've not changed at all. Not one bit. Even as a trio they sound now exactly as they did over a decade ago, but without the hits. As such it's tricky to call El Pintor a return to form, as so many seem obliged to do. Yes, it's a return to form compared to that execrable last record, which even the band now seem to disavow; and yes, it's certainly nice to have their dark and sexy grooves back, if only for those odd peachy moments; but no, their clock has not been turned back ten years with this album.
With an all-time great record starting your back-catalogue expectations will always be high, but this falls short by a very long distance. Maybe quit while you're ahead, boys.
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