While they were making Marauder, Interpol were also touring to commemorate the 15th anniversary of their debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights, and having their salad days chronicled in Meet Me in the Bathroom, Lizzy Goodman's oral history of New York City's early-2000s rock revival. Frequently, these are the achievements of an act ready to rest on its laurels, but instead of viewing this point in their career as a plateau, Interpol use it as a springboard to push harder, and rock louder, than they have in some time. To that end, they worked with an outside producer for the first time since 2007's Our Love to Admire, enlisting Dave Fridmann to shape the album's sound. Considering his ornate work with Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips, he may seem like an odd choice, but he helps Interpol shed some unnecessary musical baggage on Marauder. Instead of allowing the infinite takes and undos that digital recording provides, Fridmann had the band track the album directly to tape. It was an inspired choice: Marauder's live energy and slight imperfections are invigoratingly human (the album's anti-technology stance even extends to "Party's Over," which touches on social media's destructive loop of exhibitionism and voyeurism). Interpol attack these songs with an aggression that matches their early days, and the hallmarks of their music -- Daniel Kessler's alternately chiming and prickly guitars, Sam Fogarino's pounding rhythms, and Paul Banks' equally cryptic and emotive words and vocals -- feel reinvigorated, particularly on quintessentially Interpol moments such as "Number 10," "NYSMAW," and "Complications," a spiky, loping rocker that sounds exactly like its refrain of "sidling up the street."
In its words as well as its music, Marauder finds the band embracing its flaws. For the first time, Banks' lyrics reflect his own life as he personifies the destructive tendencies of his younger years as Marauder's titular, shape-shifting character. On the swaggering single "The Rover," he's a charismatic doomsday cult leader; on "Stay in Touch," he's a heartbroken lover who must face up to his mistakes and losses ("Marauder breaks bonds/Marauder stays long"). Combined with the album's raw sound, this willingness to reveal allows Interpol to be cathartic and poignant in ways they might not have pulled off when they were younger. There's a sense of consequences running through Marauder that gives more impact to their dour stylishness, whether on "If You Really Love Nothing," a rejection of nihilism set to Fogarino's loping, R&B-inspired rhythms, or on "It Probably Matters," which crystallizes the feeling of realizing what's been lost just a moment too late. On every song, it sounds like there's more at stake for the band than there has been in many years. For Interpol, embracing their veteran status doesn't mean a slide into complacency; if anything, it's the opposite. Marauder doesn't need to be qualified in terms of the band's former successes -- on its own terms, it's one of the richest albums of Interpol's career.