Review Summary: Interpol take a divisive and flawed step in the right direction.Our Love to Admire
was inconsistent, incohesive, and generally a mess. It saw Interpol move in a bunch of different directions at once: the Franz Ferdinand-ish Rock side of "The Heinrich Maneuver" and "Mammoth", the more tempered and atmospheric "Rest My Chemistry", the clunky "Pioneer to the Falls" and "The Scale", and the embarrassingly egoistic "There's No 'I' in Threesome". It boasted some quite good songs, but it left the door open for the band to go in any number of directions on the follow-up. Fortunately, Interpol chose to mostly abandon the generic rock that many fans worried would become the new basis of their sound. Unfortunately, there are still major flaws in the foundation of Interpol
As opposed to OLtA, this album is not very commercial or hit-singles heavy at all; and a number of listens are necessary to even like the album. It took me over a year to lift this above even a 2.5, and one must listen to this with a certain level of commitment. The reason for this isn't that the songs are necessarily bad, but they aren't immediately catchy and many of them are slow and droning. Interpol
is generally guitar and vocal driven, a significant change from the band's earlier bass-heavy work. This gives it a very artsy and dark sound, and it's easy to tell that Paul Banks didn't feel any obligation to anyone while writing it.
uses atmosphere and background noise to add depth to tracks, which is generally successful. Many parts of Interpol's evolution can be considered successful, in fact; initially barren songs build up to satisfying, full climaxes ("Always Malaise", "Lights"), piano integrates beautifully with some tracks ("Summer Well"), and the lyrics' general sense of resignation complements the music perfectly. However, the reason that this is a 3.5 and not a 4.5 comes down to many fundamental problems with the songwriting and instrument use.
One of the best parts of Interpol was always the drumming, which is minimized considerably on this album. The two best songs ("Barricade" and "Try It On") are both driven by great drum beats, and the drum entrance on "Try It On" is one of the best moments on the entire album. If Interpol truly want to return to the glory of Turn On the Bright Lights, emphasizing the drumming more is a necessity. The same thing can be said for the bass, which is not nearly as prominent as it used to be. Paul Bank's voice was never spectacular, but the increased raspiness on each album has resulted in the vocals on this album being wheezy and distractingly bad. Songs like "Success" and especially "Always Malaise" are extremely sullied by this.
The main criticism of this album is that it's boring, which is a fair comment. Many of the songs rely on big endings and droning buildup, and the slow pace is especially noticeable in the forgettable final two tracks. Interpol
isn't so much a brilliant stand-alone album as it is a transition to better things. While Our Love to Admire showed no direction, Interpol is a mission statement, albeit one that may take many
listens to be enjoyable.
Try It On