Blame the finicky musical times we live in but, suddenly, gloom seems to be back in vogue. From Arcade Fire’s critical adulation to Editors arena sized take on Joy Division, gloom seems to be everywhere.
And then we have Interpol, the NYC four-piece who have just released their third album. For those familiar with their particularly therapeutic type of melancholia, their latest offering won’t seem like much of a departure. It has the same dark atmospherics and choppy guitar lines that characterized their previous two outings; however, what we discover this time is a band trying to push gently at the edges of their own sound (are those horns on the opening track?), and aspiring towards something altogether bigger and bolder than before.
Opener ‘Pioneer to the Falls’ is magnificent. A dark, brooding track, awash with minor chords, it builds slowly. “You fly straight into my heart”, singer Paul Banks intones with heartbreaking sincerity, until the melody is picked up by the guitar and propelled somewhere into outer space.
Other highlights include new single ‘Heinrich Manoeuvre’, which deploys Interpol’s trademark sound to hip-swiveling effect. There’s the pounding guitar and full-on rage of ‘Mammoth’, and the gorgeous guitar textures of ‘Pace Is The Trick’, where guitarist Daniel Kessler pulls off the remarkable feat of sounding like Peter Buck and Johnny Marr at the same time. ‘All Fired Up’ sounds, well, all fired up – with its insistent guitar riff finally giving way to a thrilling coda, where Banks’ voice and Kessler’s guitar snake round each other, vying for attention.
‘Rest My Chemistry’ provides the album’s most affecting moment. With a pretty guitar riff over an insistent groove, we find Banks in disillusioned rock star mode: “I haven’t slept in two days/I’ve bathed in nothing but sweat/And I’ve made hallway scenes for things to regret/My friends, they come and the lines they go by.”
Although the album deflates at the end with a trio of unremarkable songs, this is a very solid Interpol album. Like Editors, Interpol are attempting to upgrade their magnificently brooding soundscape, yet still playing to their trademark melodic strengths. This record successfully updates the post-punk sound for the 21st century.