So the real surprise here is that I did not hate this album. Believe me, I was ready to.
I’d been unimpressed by the battery of pre-release material from New York’s long-running post-punk revival boys who introduced a lot of people to this type of music. Lo and behold, though, I still find myself listening to it about once or twice a week.
Still, it’s an Interpol album. For me, this means that the music is really obnoxious and depressing when you’re in the wrong mood, but sufficiently spot-on when you feel a little edgy and don’t mind brooding for an hour or so. The band’s biggest weakness has been the uniformity of their sound. I seldom remember the titles to most of the songs because it’s all the same to me.
The only exception is for the two or three best songs on the album, which really are fantastic in their own right. We’ll drop an example to make the point:
The third track on the album, this is the first one that really makes your ears perk up and pay attention. The chorus bounces a little bit, and really has a lot of drive and power behind it, shaking you out of the typical Interpol-doldrum that you can become lulled into listening to a full set of the band’s slow, downer tunes.
The next song, ‘Lights’, is OK. This one was really pushed as ‘the song you ought to like on this album if you care for Interpol at all.’ I’m iffy on it. Once it gets going, it’s not bad, and the backing chorus “That’s why I own you,” has a really cool ring to it, but I just wish Interpol would cut loose for once.
I’m not saying that every song has to be ‘PDA’, or that they should even be trying to recapture that exact idea, but could we get something that has a beat faster than my pulse? The answer is yes, at least for a moment, and the song is called ‘Barricade‘:
This type song is what keeps me coming back to Interpol even though I’m never totally sold on their overall style. It’s the perfect blend of dark coloring with enough power/drive/tempo behind it that you could pump your fist or tap your foot, and even dance a little bit to the “full speed…” bridge segment. It’s fantastic!
However, if that was too much excitement for you, don’t worry. There’s 23 more minutes of slower, plodding tracks for you to cool off to. I’m being a little hard on songs like ‘Always Malaise (The Man I Am)’, ‘Safe Without’, and ‘Try It On’. Each of these picks up at one point or another, ultimately proving to be pretty satisfying listening experiences, but just never quite to the extent of the tracks cited above.
The most egregious offense, and textbook example of what makes Interpol a snoozefest at times is ‘All of the Ways’. I wish there was more to say, but there isn’t. It drags, it’s boring, both in terms of content and style, and I usually skip it. The closer, ‘The Undoing’, is anything but that: a solid showing to close out the ten-track effort.
I feel bad being so flippant about my distaste for some of the material on the album, because ultimately I have to recommend it to the casual Interpol fan. Interpol is not the record I want it to be, but my love-hate relationship with the band is going on seven years now, so I’m not their best advocate (in spite of 60+ listens to Our Love to Admire and 70+ to Turn on the Bright Lights).
Give it a shot. It’s worth it even if you only like the three or four great songs. If you enjoy anything else, all the better.