Category Archives: albums

Interpol – "Our Love to Admire"

Our Love to AdmireFirst 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.

InterpolInterpol 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) andInterpol - “Our Love to Admire” 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.

Albums of the Year

It is getting close to the point where I am going to have to develop my list for the best albums released in 2007.

You may think that is is too early, ahhh, but this is where you are wrong, and it is my blog after all and I do whatever I want. Here’s to an early start. Albums may or may not be added to this list, we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the year goes. In the weeks to come I will begin to review the merits of each of these albums, hopefully that will bring us up to the end of the year where only one winner will remain. Here they are in no particular order:

Thurston Moore – “Trees Outside the Academy”
The most recent addition to the list has the indie rock god still showing everyone how it is done, while coming a long way from “Psychic Hearts”. I expected this to be a bit more Sonic Youth-y, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was very wrong. The addition of violin on the album is a very nice touch, and the song writing is quite polished, all in all a solid album and strong contender.

Interpol – “Our Love to Admire”
The major label debut for NYC’s Interpol is their best effort to date and my personal latest obsession. The album is solid all the way through, despite some rehashing of old material. Dark and beautiful and full of emotion, regardless of whether or not the lyrics make any sense whatsoever.

Matthew Good – “Hospital Music”
This was a surprise to me. I have heard many songs by Matt Good and the Matt Good band in the past, and nothing quite grabbed my attention. This album sat on my computer untouched for a while before deciding to finally listen to it, being sick of all the regular things I was listening to. The album made me stop what I was doing and demanded my attention all the way through. Quite a powerful piece of work from a dark period in the life of this Canadian singer/songwriter.

Air – “Pocket Symphony”
Successful albums, to me, are able to convey a feeling all the way through. The mood is set through the songs, it is the thread that ties each together, but the songs need to also stand alone too. This album is a perfect amalgam of almost, but not quite, ambient pop tunes with a hint of Kraftwerk minus the rigidity and math.

Marnie Stern – “In Advance of the Broken Arm”
Out of nowhere comes this shred guitar, prog, thrash album from a great guitarist with a very odd sense of rhythm (thanks to Hella’s drummer). These songs are catchy, fast, intense and a whirlwind of emotions presented by a captivating, convincing voice. The lack in sound quality on the album is more than made up for by the complex counterpoint of the multiple guitar tracks and almost exclusively finger-tapped guitar.

Of Montreal – “Icons, Abstract Thee” (EP)
Although this is only an EP (you can see already that this most likely will not make the cut) consisting of outtakes from the “Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer?” album, it is a concise and well crafted piece of work. This was my introduction to Of Montreal, and for that reason it holds a special place in my heart.

Shellac – “Excellent Italian Greyhound”
What can be said that hasn’t already been said about Chicago’s own Shellac. These intense math-rockers, fronted by the ever captivating and violently opinionated Steve Albini, never fail to deliver to their fans. Although this album does not necessarily break new ground as far as Shellac albums go, it is always great to have more. The production quality, the humor, the guitar tone that I drool over, Albini’s snide, sarcastic tone contrasted by Bob Westons inability to sing on pitch all add up to a demanding listen, although they falter on a few tracks.

That sums it up for right now. I have word that there are a few albums that may be missing. A friend recently told me not to leave out the Grinderman effort, as well as the new Ricki Lee Jones, and I mustn’t forget the new Tegan and Sara album. As soon as I check them out I will add them here. Check back soon to see reviews, and watch the contenders to see who will remain standing at years end.