Review Summary: too much consistency, too little identity
To be honest, I'm not quite sure what was expected of Interpol at this point. Seems like Turn On the Bright Lights
fell far away. That album is one with an identity, but after that, this band always seemed a little confused. Some years. Now enter El Pintor,
their first album in four years. The cover art is intriguing, the title is.. something like that, and it sounds.. well, it sounds good. It's smooth, full, and rides on a consistent reverb cloud. But the thing is, that cloud kind of soaks everything in and forgets to leave the songs with any traits that are truly unique from the others.
The opener, "All the Rage Back Home," kicks things off more than strong enough, with a dark, dramatic pulse beneath a notably engaging melody. But in a way, it's already the beginning of the end. Through the rest of the album, hardly any texture components are altered noticeably. There's some catchy little licks, like the one that introduces "My Desire," but by the next half of the album, Mr. Banks is somehow uttering the line "Fuck the ancient ways" without even sitting me up straight.
But hey, he did say "Fuck the ancient ways." And the line is consistent with the aesthetic, for this album is not moving backwards. Despite them at some points turning rather homogeneous, these songs still have some edge; I couldn't see them played on every
radio station, mostly due to the melancholy and the notably thick atmosphere. But the edge softens as the album goes. "Anywhere" has some joyful abandon that breaks the album up some, and "My Blue Supreme" has some more, but when you look past the choruses, you'll see that these songs have far more in common with the rest of the songs than not.
But the album doesn't stop trying, for it's always worth some sort of attention. I can see how some might be attracted to Mr. Banks' delivery, unassuming yet at times surprisingly passionate. And the smooth, yet hard-edged bass lines seem to be an obvious selling point, in the driving, nostalgic post-punk skeletons they give the songs. But the album just falls into itself too much; it needs to be louder more, it needs to be quieter more. It needs to be more adventurous, it needs to be more controlled. It's a consistent, but admittedly pleasant, cloud.