Review by Tomas Hanrahan
First, let’s get this out of the way; I am an unabashed Interpol fan. Love them. Always have. The doom and gloom sets my tongue wagging like a hungry dog at the mere mention of any new material. And since the self titled album from 2010, I never thought they would release anything again!
The departure of a founding member of any group usually sets alarm bells ringing, and in this case, the cool as Christmas bass player, Carlos D, left the band to pursue other interests, while Banks seemed more interested in reinvigorating his solo career. It’s rather fitting then, that the album’s title “El Pintor”, which at first glance seems an obvious rearrangement of the band’s name, also means “The Painter” in Spanish. The band now possesses a blank canvas to apply the brushstrokes towards their future.
“All The Rage Back Home” is the strongest hint of joy, perhaps we have ever heard from them. The band has achieved this with roaring “hey, hey, heys” dancing in the background while the foreground displays all the band’s dominant musical ingredients. Even after essentially four years off the grid, Paul Bank’s voice has never sounded better.
“My Desire” swiftly follows up the forward momentum with a chugging bass line and squiggly guitar riffs. Seductively swaggering for five full minutes with vague outlines of strings at the fade out; the boys seems to be dipping their toes into new sounds, albeit briefly. While the propulsive “Anywhere” could slip comfortably into the middle of their sophomore album “Antics”.
“Same Town, New Story” has an absolutely delicious opening hook that sets the precedent for the rest of the track. Conceivably the most far removed from the Interpol template on the album. It’s a bright disco tinged song with a sad story echoing the pressure the band has had on itself to deliver, with Banks bellowing that he has “the whole world on his shoulders”. If the band’s music had a colour preference it would be dripping in black and white.
“Ancient Ways” is far and away the most aggressive number on the album, a muscular, profanity ridden track that lays waste to the past; “fuck the ancient ways/they are heretofore/shown no claim” is coupled with a dirty garage jam. Following this is “Tidal Wave” which suggests the slightest hint of keyboards and drums born straight out of the jungle. With new experimental flirtations on the cards…who needs Carlos D anyway!
This is the arguably their best album since “Turn On The Bright Lights” with the band holding a steady grip on the new material and reminding the world how they arrived here in the first place. All the trademarks are still apparent; but instead of heading to the funeral, it seems more like celebrations at the wake.
Bottom line...has anything really changed since the band blasted onto the scene? Not really. But the band’s consistency is generally overlooked for hopes that they will be able to match their brilliant debut; to which this is within striking distance. If you never fancied Interpol, nothing here is about to change your mind. For those who love them, and some classic NYC morbidity, put your best suits and dresses on, the hearse is out back.