First up for review in the new releases this year (I hope to begin doing these as they happen for next year) is the latest effort from New York City’s Interpol.
It is hard to believe that this is their first release on a major label as 2005’s “Antics” was a pretty solid album, though I do mean “pretty” solid, there were a few tracks on that one that don’t quite make the cut. Regardless, that was then and “Our Love To Admire” is an album full of great songwriting and the densely layered guitars that fans have come to love. They are definitely a band that continues to grow with each release.
The album ( I do own this one on vinyl….came with a CD inside too, which earns bonus points….thank you Restless Records in Chicago) opens with the somber “Pioneer to the Falls”, somber but with a lot of forward motion, something that Interpol seems to do better and better. Throughout the song guitars are added, layer upon layer, with the drums chugging along with a march-like roll that proceeds incessantly.
Interpol seem to have carved out a niche for themselves in being a band that is concerned more and more about keeping a song interesting, never saying anything the same way twice. Things are added, taken away, every song goes from loud to soft or vice versa, every song has a shape and very very few of them follow the tried and true formula of ‘verse – chorus – verse – chorus – chorus – etc..’ and one would hardly notice.
There is a contrapuntal element to Interpol’s songwriting that few bands have. They manage to get up to 4 or 5 different ideas going at one time without the song becoming so dense as to not hear what is going on. Thankfully Carlos D. has learned to keep his bass playing a little more on the functional side this time around. His lines are much less busy than on previous efforts, and he is somewhat more buried in the mix but still noticeable. The guitars tend to stray from the straight 8th note rhythms that made “Turn on the Bright Lights” so plodding, exchanging it instead for a groove that is a lot more free.
The first single “The Heinrich Maneuver” is a straight ahead, driving rocker reminiscent of “Slow Hands”, and in the same key too. This is one of the strongest tracks on the album with the sneering, tense vocals and cryptic lyrics that have become something else that is expected from the band.
Other stand out tracks include “Mammoth”, which is quite similar to “Not Even Jail”. I say that it is quite similar, but not in a derogatory sense, like they ripped themselves off. “Mammoth” is the better track, they took the ideas presented on “Antics” and extrapolated on them, perfected them and present them here again. “Pace is the Trick” comes next, with seemingly endless verses that flow into each other. The additive effect at work in this one is quite grand. It just builds and builds, background vocals are added and guitars are layered (again) the vocal line reaches up higher and higher and then everything is cut off, only to be built back up again double-time. Have I mentioned their brilliant songwriting yet? There is some really groundbreaking stuff on this album.
Aside from the abandoning of traditional songwriting forms (which is nothing new, the New Pornographers have been doing it for years) and the layered, contrapuntal guitar work which are all great there is one thing very wrong with the package…..the artwork.
Sorry, I don’t get it. I know that Interpol has a very dry sense of humor that tends towards the sarcastic and dark, but I liked the dark, intense imagery conjured on their first album. That album had the whole thing down: artwork matched what was contained within. Since then they have drifted in that respect.
Back to the music, and summing this up, it is definitely worthy of your time to try this album. Even if the lyrics tend towards the mysterious on certain songs, there are times when they are not so hard to understand. For every ” show me the dirt pile and I will pray/that the soul can take/three stow-aways” there is a line that is quite to the point: “my friends they come/and the lines they go by/but tonight I’m gonna rest/my chemistry”. Though their sense of humor, ala “Roland”, is still in tact via “No I in Threesome”. Funny, yes, dark, yes, does that make it funnier
that you think he is being dead serious YES.
The album has a flow to it as well, it works good as a whole and does not weaken as it draws to a close. If you were to put this on repeat it would go for hours and hours before you even noticed. Trust me, I’ve done it.