What the..? An almost “upbeat” Interpol album? What next, a “goth” album from The Spice Girls?! Dearie me.
Not that Interpol have only ever been purveyors of Doom ‘n’ Gloom: They’ve certainly always had a “groovy” side, thanks mainly to funky-assed bassist Carlos D, a man who must have at least one Jah Wobble-era PiL album in his collection. Carlos is already missing from the live shows, and apparently this is to be his final record with The ‘Pols (or should that be The Inter’s?), and as a nice little parting gift they’ve given him almost an entire album of rump-shakin’ beats and boppy toons to see him on his merry way. Or perhaps this is the very reason he has parted ways with his former band members in the first place? Perhaps he, like yours truly, asked himself the rather pressing question: Since when the hell did Interpol become a freaking “party band”?!?
In all honesty, none of this would be such a problem if this were an album full of killer “death disco” numbers a la “Slow Hands”, “The Heinrich Maneuver” or “Evil”, but alas, there’s nothing quite so immediate here…nothing which demands so stubbornly to be danced to like a whirling dervish coked up to the eyeballs on Omo (or any other leading brand of washing powder). A bit of polite nodding and/or toe-tapping is perhaps more the order of the day here, though the rather amiable “Barricade” does do its damndest to persuade otherwise. When The Editors made their rather alarming switch to synth-pop on their last album, at least they went the whole hog and made a record which could easily have dropped onto turntables circa 1982, whereas Interpol’s effort here seems a little more tentative to say the least, ultimately producing a record which will probably be viewed retrospectively as an “in-between” or “transitional” album, or maybe just “the last one they did with Carlos”.
Am I saying I don’t like this album? No, it’s enjoyable and interesting enough, and still bears many of the hallmarks of the (hopefully still) excellent band I fell in love with a few years back. Will it “grow” on me with more listens? Probably, sure. Is it their weakest yet? For my buck I’d say so, yeah…but it’d probably still make my Top 10 albums of the year, though certainly not Top 5.
On the whole this is a nice enough album…perhaps a little TOO nice, coming from a band formerly unashamed of showing its teeth. Here’s hoping there’s darker times ahead for these lads, as they’re evidently enjoying life a bit too much at the moment and, ahem, appear to have lost much of the “lead” from their “pencils”. More of that joyous MISERY, you bastards! Best leave the elation-via-melancholia shtick to the bands who do it best, like Foals and The Killers…though full consolation points are in order for the seamless seagues between the final trilogy of songs (a rather nifty touch of older-school trickery which I failed to notice the first couple of listens)!
© Michael Bowser, Music Vice