Interpol started off as a very successful band from their debut record. With bands like that, the reputation is bound to diminish somewhat over time because they started off so strong (like other examples in rock history: The Strokes, The Pretenders, Jonathan Richman, Rickie Lee Jones, Arcade Fire, etc.). The band mixes influence from all of rock’s best “gloom” bands into something new and unique that actually stacks up with the mentors. The hype surrounding Interpol often comes with great criticism that the band is not original, henceforth not any good. Well, that’s just stupid. Many bands wear their influences on their sleeves and it has nothing to do with making great music; the point is to see how each band is different from the next and what they add to the cannon. Well, any band that can add songs like “NYC”, “Evil”, “Mammoth”, “Wrecking Ball”, and “Obstacle 1” to the rock n’ roll party book is worth a look in my opinion.
Daniel Kessler – Guitar
Carlos Dengler – Bass
Paul Banks – Vocals, Guitar
Sam Fogarino – Drums
Our Love to Admire
The Doors, U2, The Cure, Joy Division, Sonic Youth
2002 – (4.5 / 5) – Turn off the Bright Lights
2004 – (3.5 / 5) – Antics
2007 – (5 / 5) – Our Love to Admire
2010 – (2 / 5) – Interpol
2014 – (2.5 / 5) – El Pintor
Turn off the Bright Lights – (4.5 / 5)
This album was touted as the zeitgeist of the 00’s way too early, but it is a great debut. The first four songs especially paint a vivid picture of gloom and longing uncommon to rookie musicians. Along the way, influences such as The Smiths, U2, Joy Division, The Doors, and Sonic Youth can be heard. To be honest, it takes a while to absorb the album because the first four tracks are SO GOOD! “Untitled” is just about a perfect opener that sets the tone for the whole record; “Obstacle 1” is a driving and complicated blast of rock emotion; “NYC” is one of the most beautiful ballads in rock, and the obscure lyrics only add to the songs mystique; “PDA” is the easiest song to like at first, but still is pretty brutal in its chugging guitar sound. Other highlights that grow on you include the Ranaldo-Moore homage “Roland”; the guitar instrumental “Hands Away”; “Obsticle 2” is the other song that stacks up with the first four songs in quality. The tracks I haven’t mentioned are the reasons the album is not perfect, and the last two songs kind of meander into nothing so the album ends pretty weak. Still, there is more than enough reason that shows how Interpol made such an impact in 2002. This is a great album that shows a band that takes its influences and creates something completely new with it, like all great debuts should.
Greatest Songs: NYC, PDA, Obstacle 2, Roland
Antics – (3.5 / 5)
Antics is not a sophomore slump, but a transitional record. The band still has plenty to say in songs like “Evil”, “The Length of Love” and “Next Exit”, all those rank with the best the band has done and the gothic style remains about the same. The strange thing about Antics is that the lesser songs are kind of the most interesting. For example, I would not call “Slow Hands” or “C’mere” a great song but I do think that they point where the band is going. It is obvious on these tracks that the band is interested in expanding its sound, but they haven’t quite found a way yet. This fact is unique almost exclusively to Interpol, and it helps the band quite a bit that they are interesting when also kind of boring. Then again, songs like “Narc”, “Not Even Jail”, and “Take You On a Cruise” are pretty lame and interrupt the records flow, hence it never builds any steam. Antics is the perfect example of a transitional record, but it is one of the better transitional records I have heard, at once being more accessible and harder to get into then the debut.
Greatest Songs: Evil, Length of Love, Next Exit
Our Love to Admire – (5 / 5)
This album is like nothing else ever heard in rock music. Question is, is that or a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it could go either way, but it suffices to say Our Love to Admire succeeds brilliantly. The band combines the themes of Turn off the Bright Lights with the polish and sheen of Antics, producing an album that seems “lost” and “slick” to the untrained ear. In reality, not one of these songs can be described so simply. “Mammoth”, “Rest My Chemistry”, and “The Scale” are easy to enjoy but not predictable pop. “Who Do You Think”, “No I in Threesome”, and “Pace is the Trick” are bouncy and likable but hardly happy. “Pioneer to the Falls”, and the two closers “Wrecking Ball” and “Lighthouse” seem to belong to another album altogether, but fit in well. The trick the band pulls off is seeming normal but being deceitful. In the lyrics, someone can sense a kind of treachery whether internal or external. A broken heart lies at the center of the album, containing Bank’s best lyrics yet: “Nobody warned you, nobody told you to make up your mind/I’m inside like a wrecking ball through your eyes”, “I’ve slept for 2 days, I’ve bathed in nothing but sweat/ and I’ve made hallways it seems for things to regret”, “All that we need is one thing/ now what is there to allow/ you feel the sweet breath of time it’s whispering its truth not mine – there’s no I in threesome”.
Overall, the theme musically and lyrically is that of a lost soul. Like any great record, there are moments of beauty within songs: the overlapping vocals at the end of “Pace is the Key”; the backwards guitar on “The Scale”; the lushness and atmosphere of “The Lighthouse”. The record has a nice flow to it, and it shows the confidence behind the musicians that it succeeds so well. This is defiantly a gloomy record, consistent with the rest of Interpol’s discography, but it all adds up to the best album the band has done yet- a near perfect musical creation by a unified band. It’s the most intriguing “void of sound” Interpol has made. It is important to note that rock music has gone beyond blues in many ways, and this album proves that as well. “The Lighthouse” is a hell of a lot more interesting than say, “Riders on the Storm” form one of the band’s primary influences, The Doors. Bands like Interpol that push rock music’s boundaries may not be immediately accessible but on subsequent listens reveal very interesting stuff. Our Love to Admire is very ahead of its time and hopefully someday people will place it among the classics of the 2000’s like it deserves.
Greatest Songs: Mammoth, Wrecking Ball, Rest My Chemistry, The Scale