The fact that Interpol has become slave to their own sound may have ended up playing a dirty trick on them. A few seasons ago as everyone knows, ever-malicious, cyclical fashion made the New Yorkers the last great post-punk hope of two generations—the nostalgic one and the new one—who were claiming Joy Division as the maximum symbol of tragedy made music. About that time, with the ashes of 11-S still present in our memory, the band stood out with a debut, “Turn on the Bright Lights” (2002), which opened the doors to success open wide for them, thanks to singles that dazzled with their brilliance. Still repeating the formula with “Antics” (2004), it wasn’t until “Our Love to Admire” (2007) that many started to question the group’s durability. There were already doubts. Incomprehensibly, the New Yorkers got their first public slap in the face with an album that was better than notable –if only for “No I In Threesome”, they deserved our respect. Was the audience starting to get fed up with their sound? Did the orchestral arrangements of “Our Love to Admire” make them vulnerable to resentment? Or had their great moment simply passed, that spark that starts a fire and eventually goes out?
In various previous interviews, some members of the band warned us that their album by the same name, “Interpol”, would be a return to their origins. We know that the promotional circuit is a nest of half-truths that are never called into question, but it is true that this fourth album isn’t too different from what they had been showing us so far. Leaning towards self-production, and having returned to the ranks of Matador after leaving Capitol, Interpol wasn’t looking for the big hit this time around – “Barricade” shows us the best that they can offer us, but deep down it sounds like a not-very-surprising contemplative potpourri. All signs show that after bassist Carlos Dengler, the real soul of the group along with Paul Banks, left the group, Interpol will have to step in and make a change of course. But we’ll have to wait at least a couple more years to see whether this prognosis (or recommendation) is true.
“Interpol” could be considered, then, to be at an impasse, the end of an era (already out-of-date, for some), which is begging for a reformulation of its foundations in order not to fall into a definitive exhaustion. Having said that, one might think that we are faced with a minor album, but the band continues to do what it does the best. In the five first songs, they tend towards energetic rhythm sections, as on “Success” –similar to “Obstacle 1”– or the brilliant “Summer Well”. But in the second half of the album, bigger surprises start to appear, when Banks and company take hold of oppressive atmospheres in the form of half times – “The Undoing” is very poorly sung in Spanish, by the way. Then, from the end of “Always Malaise (The Man I Am)”, is a clear example of that blanket of piano that covers many of their songs, including the tandem made up of “Try It On” and the electronic garlands of “All of the Ways” –one of their most outstanding pieces ever. It’s overwhelming, hypnotic, it gives you goose bumps thanks to Banks’s vocal register. Interpol revalidate their status with songs that lack immediacy, but which as you listen to them, end up becoming the cornerstone of a work that will not disappoint staunch fans one bit. Sergio del Amo