Review Summary: Capitol Records turned on the bright lights, but Interpol continues with their antics.
Let me get this out of the way immediately. Interpol sounds like Joy Division. However, they threw us all for a loop here. They played the hype game perfectly, stating an evolution in their sound with the entrance of keyboards. They never let too much about the album out, only to build a shroud of mystery around Our Love to Admire, which for a long time people thought would be titled Moderation. Like the eponymous spy organization, Interpol kept their album a secret for as long as possible. Then they released “The Heinrich Maneuver”, the album’s first single, featuring the low-key catchiness so familiar from Interpol. Really, not much had changed, but it was nice to see that they hadn’t really gotten any worse. Unfortunately, as Our Love to Admire
demonstrates, they haven’t gotten any better either.
The album begins as the other two Interpol albums did, sparsely and brilliantly. “Pioneer to the Falls” may be the best song on the album. Beginning with a haunting guitar melody and sprinkles of high piano, it broods slowly and simply. Banks sings with his typical, monotone voice but finds himself in a musical setting that suits it better than ever. Overall, it feels like Turn on the Bright Lights
has returned, with a much more epic atmosphere rather than trying to create a hit single with every song. Unfortunately, this is no indication to the rest of the album. “No I in Threesome”, which talks about just that, a threesome, gives a true preview into the album, beginning with a simple bassline and building from there. To its credit, the chorus showcases a great vocal melody and a downbeat with the guitars splashing into the sound with a huge sound. Everything else sounds all too familiar, even with the addition of piano and keyboard. Really, all the new instrumentation does to the album is add more chordal substance instead of making better atmosphere or more melody. The keyboards add more sound and nothing more. The simple guitar melodies, jumpy basslines, and robotic, always on the beat drumming all return and show no progression.
Here, it is necessary to realize that Our Love to Admire
is Interpol’s major label debut on Capitol Records. With big name producer Rich Costey, the production further embraces Interpol’s sound. Everything is clearer, more dynamic. Costey did an excellent job at taking the band’s sound and making it sound the best it could. Again, it is the repetitive nature of the album and its songwriting that brings it down. There is no evolution in their sound, just a few added piano chords. Variety comes from “Rest My Chemistry”, which brings the tempo down and utilizes the piano much better and shows some of the band’s better guitar interplay. It broods in its simple groove better than most of the album, showing a bit more soul from the entire band, including the drummer who plays more like a human rather than a click track. The album closes much like it started with the sparse “Lighthouse”, basking in reverberated guitars and deep piano. Once again, it is this atmosphere where Interpol works best. Perhaps this is the evolution they speak of, where their music becomes even simpler than it ever has been. The song reaches its climax with tribal drums and epic, descending chimes. Much like the solemn image the band portrays, it ends sounding the same as their career started - depressed.
Maybe I’m expecting too much here, after Interpol proclaimed a brand new, evolved sound and everything seemed to be looking up, from their much more artistic, interesting album cover to the image they seemed to want to portray, but at the root of almost every song is that same, clean guitar line, and while this formula works, it’s growing old. I’d much rather hear an album of “Pioneer to the Falls” than “Pace is the Trick” or “Scale”. The bookends of the album are where the band should be heading, simply because that doesn’t sound like Joy Division.