Interpol

Interpol

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A lot about Interpol suggests that it's a statement of purpose, from its eponymous title to the fact that it was released by Matador, where the band released its best material. There is a certain back-to-basics feel about the album: producer Alan Moulder strips away much of Our Love to Admire's lavish sheen and gives the band a more muscular attack by pushing the rhythm section to the fore -- especially fitting since bassist Carlos Dengler left the band shortly after finishing Interpol -- and the album clocks in at a relatively concise 10 songs in 45 minutes. However, like many things about this band, it's not quite that simple. Interpol spends the first half of the album shoring up their strengths, particularly well on "Barricade." With its killer opening line "I did not take to anaylsis/So I had to make up my mind" and taut interplay between Dengler's bass and Daniel Kessler's guitar, it feels like it could have appeared on Turn on the Bright Lights; even the name harks back to "Obstacle 1," though this feels more like a response to that song than a rehash of it. At other times, the band feels like they're consciously trying craft Interpol songs. "Success"' down-turning melody and the sexual undercurrent that permeates lyrics like "Summer Well"'s "The fevered plastics that seal your body/they won't stop this rain" come from dog-eared pages of the band's playbook. Despite the direct sonics, many of these songs aren't especially immediate; even the single "Lights" is more insistent than catchy, with a drilling riff that builds into a dark meditation on love and control. Interpol's second half is more intriguing, giving Our Love to Admire's ambition a tighter focus. "Always Malaise (The Man I Am)" is thrilling, reaffirming Interpol's status as masters of ambivalent love songs as it switches between major and minor keys as quickly as a tempestuous relationship goes from sweet to sour and back again. They get even bolder on the album's closing trilogy, as well they should -- by this point, Banks, Dengler and drummer Sam Fogarino had all embarked on projects that showed they had more range than they were displaying in their main band. Indeed, the looping keyboards and precise beats of "Try it On" recalls Banks' work as Julian Plenti, and by the time trilogy culminates with the surprisingly spiritual "The Undoing," the band sounds fresher than they have in some time. Ultimately, Interpol isn't a statement of purpose as much as it is the end of an era for the band: With Dengler gone and back on their original label, they have the ability, and perhaps necessity, to go in any direction they choose.

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