In-ter-pol |’intər,pôl; -,päl|
1. A Paris-based organisation that co-ordinates investigation into crimes with an international dimension: The International Criminal Police Organisation.
2. A New York rock band formed in 1997.
Eight years ago, Interpol  had the potential to win all the trumps. Modeling themselves on the tenacity, the reticence, and the formidable command of Interpol , they arose at just the right time, providing a darker, more enigmatic contrast to other New-York-centric bands such as The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes. They played their hand extraordinarily well delivering a flawless debut album, the 2002 Turn on the Bright Lights, an NME top ten album of the year, and providing a strong follow-up with the 2004 Antics.
But the truth is, Interpol’s hand just did not hold all the cards. Their infallible composure began to crumble. When least expected, unforeseen competitors came out with the ace of spades, and one bad move – the 2007 Our Love to Admire – lost them the game.
However rather than bailing out completely, Interpol have re-gathered their resources, and bought back in with their most recent release; the eponymous fourth album first heard last Tuesday. Reception has been mixed, but it seems that though Interpol may not hold the royalties of before, they still know how to play.
A critical point to remember is that the sound of Interpol ages well. It is unsurprising that neither Antics, nor Turn on the Bright Lights, have dated, but even Our Love to Admire has gotten better with time. Indeed, perhaps the reason for this album’s failure was not so much due to the integrity of the individual songs, but the album’s arrangement as a whole. In a way, the sound of Interpol is largely indistinguishable from one album to the next. They’ve always been tight. They’ve always been characterised by the same bittersweet guitar harmonies, the same stomach-dropping crescendos and the same throbbing bass-line.
However, in a way this consistency defines not so much the success of their new album, but rather their failure. Interpol is Interpol. To me, they’ll always be good. But while in a way the new album does retains some of the dynamism of their earlier work, it would be a far stretch to say that they’ve pioneered to create anything radically different.
Most tracks on the album are indisputably definitive of the old Interpol. The album opens just as you would expect. The heady consistency of the drums is paired with moody guitar riffs and Paul Bank’s instantly recognisabe baritone. The opener Success is a more upbeat (and better) version of Rest My Chemistry, while the third track, Summer Well is cross-breed of Evil and Heinrich Maneuvers.
None of these songs are poor; it’s just that we’ve heard it all before. Ironically, one of the only songs to try to do something new was one of the only songs which failed. Try It On is one of the later tracks of the album, and though at points it has potential, the ill-fated piano introduction left it a failure from the beginning.
True Interpol gems include Lights and All of the Ways. Lights is a perfect example of the bands ability to build tension, and by gradually increasing the richness of the musical textural layers, it draw the listener into the powerful vibrancy of the sound. Though All of the Ways is similar in quality, it is defined by the moments where it verges into unchartered territories. The static electricity of the introduction is retained throughout, and the atmospheric capacity of Banks vocal ability is truly realised. The clumsy opening of Try it On is put to better use within All of the Ways and perhaps, above all other songs on the album, it is a mark of Interpol really extending their musical creativity.
But the lyrics of Success, tell it all.
‘I have succeeded,
I won’t compete for long’.
Interpol have found a strategy which works and more or less, for better or for worse, they’re sticking to it. Perhaps (just quietly) Interpol really are just tired of the game.
Highlights :: “Hot Mess” and “Summer Well”, "All of the Ways" and "Lights"