Thursday, September 18, 2014

Interpol : "El Pintor"

Not sure why this new Interpol has been getting dismissed as inferior to their earlier work by some critics. This is coming from some one who certainly wouldn't have minded if these guys had gone in a darker direction than what seems to be unfolding here. On first listen I haven't decided what I think of it, but I have learned ever since first hearing the band that they always deserve a second chance.

When I first heard Interpol I thought they were an indie rock band trying to be Joy Division. I later heard a song that made me re-consider this. Then I saw them open up for the Cure and my opinion backslid again. Fast Forward a few years and I down loaded "Turn on the Bright Lights", thus hooking me in as a fan. They are in the rotating cast of second tier bands, who unlike Swans or the Cure, do not have a permanent place in the old iPod. Granted if I get a 64 gig iPod this could change...(consider this shameless self promotion if any one has an extra they would like to donate to the cause).

Singer Paul Banks might not be as glum since he started dating super models in 2008, so expecting him back at the place he was for even "Antics". Pondering might be a better way to describe the mood. Now on the second listen of the album one things are becoming more evident. The opener " All the Rage Back Home", is much less sardonic and pretty damn up beat. The catch is it's also it's well written and well executed, so hard to argue against it. Production wise there is a broader sonic range in the colors used on the guitars.

The shades close on the more morose "My Desire" which touches on more familiar places for the band, without totally retreading the same ground. One again the varied levels of shimmer and sparkle that the guitar captures continues to take you further into this dream land. It's not the same type of dream land the Cocteau Twins float to , but a wandering wonder-lust for the New York skyline before dawn.

"Anywhere" is a very contained Pixies like stomp, that drives forward while looking inward. The gift of great song writing is the strong point for this band. The are less about chops and more about employing the sounds to craft these songs.The drumming is pretty strong and some intricate symbol work takes place under the pocket grooves. I didn't start asking questions until "Same Town, New Story". It has more of an electronic feel than what I think the band does best, almost to a Beck level.The chilled out disco beat doesn't do much to convince me otherwise. They are coming from a similar chilled smooth place on "My Blue Supreme", but it works better here as Banks sounds more committed to the song.

The bass driven "Everything is Wrong" could very off into U2 or Cold Play territory, but it's the feeling in Banks voice that saves the day. As all the elements to make this that kind of radio rock are in place, but it's Interpol's smirking personality that retains the integrity. "Ancient Ways"  is another step closer to perhaps the Antics era. The guitar has a surf rock elements that is not unlike the Edge's post -War style of playing.    

There is an element to the solemn melody opening "Breaker 1" that is some what R.E.M to me, but even when it builds into more of a dance floor throb, it doesn't feel like pop. I can hear comparison to the last Arcade Fire as they both employ seedy grooves. "Tidal Wave" another ode to Banks' surfing addiction is not as thoughtfully constructed as some of the albums more air tight moments. "Twice as Hard" also stands out from the rest of the album, but in a much better way. It's more desperate sounding, a pondering space ballad, with echoes of something like Broken Bells or the Gorillaz, minus any hip-hop elements.

I'll give this album a 9.5, for a mainstream band of this ilk it says a lot that they are not totally rolling over and abandoning their sound to jump on the next passing band wagon, there is no edm or dub-step, nothing auto-tuned or folky, yet they are not rehashing past albums.

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