Release Date: Sep 9, 2014
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
You’ve got to hand it to Carlos Dengler. It’s been four years since he left Interpol, and we’re still talking about him. Admittedly, this has a lot to do with the timing of his departure, just before the release and just after the completion of the last album. Given his penchant for the dramatic you wonder if that was the plan all along.
El Pintor is immediately as comfortable and as welcome as a threadbare and favourite jumper but it only takes one entire and single minute to hear a new, renewed aerated energy to the band. One beat in and Paul Banks’ voice immediately becomes the anchor, with a lone guitar circling around, both laying the foundations of what you later cannot shake. As “All the Rage Back Home” builds, it’s all in the detail that reels you in.
Interpol's fifth album, El Pintor, eschews the experimental diversions and general malaise of the band's last, self-titled release in favor of a general return to the post-punk throb they nailed on their first run out in Turn on the Bright Lights. The context into which El Pintor drops, however, is completely different. The post-punk revival the band helped kick off more than a decade ago is on more than a hiatus, and many of the genre's signature acts have long since disbanded or evolved.
It may be strange to describe a band that at one point seemed like the second coming of Joy Division as “energetic”, especially when that band’s last record (2010’s self-titled effort) was more languid and dour than anything they had previously recorded, but that’s exactly how Interpol sound on their fifth album, El Pintor. Regardless of how one might feel about the general trajectory of Interpol’s career, this is the sound of a band revitalized and rejuvenated, and while it may not quite reach the incredible heights to which they so adeptly ascended in years past, El Pintor is still a fantastic record from a fantastic band. The record starts with restraint.
The story of Interpol is a twisting tale to tell. Starting in 2002 with stunning debut ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’, a brilliant follow up in ‘Antics’ and then diminishing returns (at least in terms of review scores) until internal turmoil and the departure of founding bassist Carlos D. Returning as a three piece, Interpol have a lot to prove.
Since 2010's eponymous fourth album, New York's sharpest-dressed miserabilists have taken a lengthy hiatus and lost talismanic bassist Carlos Dengler and brief replacement David Pajo, while frontman Paul Banks has been solo and dabbling in rap. However, El Pintor finds Interpol returning to the sleek, monochrome post-punk that caused such an impact in the early 2000s. All the Rage Back Home and My Desire are pacy, confident openers that chime melodically.
“It feels like we’ve come full circle in a way,” Interpol’s frontman Paul Banks told NME earlier this year, at the start of their second stint on the NME Awards Tour (their first was supporting The Datsuns in 2003). New album ‘El Pintor’ mirrors that notion; it feels like a gigantic return to form after seven years of dwindling quality.It’s an album that might never have been made. After the release of 2010’s self-titled effort, the band were under no obligation to make another record, so they went on hiatus and indulged in their own projects.
There are those who believe that when it comes to Interpol, nothing — not even a brutal, lionized smash — will top Turn on the Bright Lights. Can you really blame them? That debut had everything to say, and nothing more, about what Interpol are all about: gloom with a lesser emphasis on doom, accessible abrasiveness, calculated (but not rote) disaffection. Bright Lights has become a classic — not a classic like your dad’s dusty copy of Unknown Pleasures, but by the measure of a certain crowd, sure.
Like that final Maths examination or opening one's presents on Christmas morning, the anticipation which awaits a new Interpol is quite something. Although still seen in some circles as something of a cult phenomenon, their impact this side of the Millennium can only be matched by a handful of other artists. Rewind the clocks back almost four years, and the future didn't seem quite so rosy.
As the titular anagram of Interpol's name suggests, El Pintor refocuses and realigns the fundamentals of the band's music. Where their 2010 self-titled album split the difference between back-to-basics post-punk and lavish experiments, on their fifth album -- and first without former bassist Carlos Dengler -- Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, and Sam Fogarino hone things even further. El Pintor is Interpol's shortest album, and its music is the closest to the ideal form of the band's sound: Kessler's guitar swings between prodding, angular lines and dreamy washes; Fogarino provides crisp punctuation; and Banks' yearning-yet-authoritative baritone gives more form to abstract lyrics such as "There is a slope like an appetite" (Banks also steps in for Dengler, and does an able, if slightly less distinctive, job).
If El Pintor settles one argument about Interpol, it is how little of an effect the departure of bassist Carlos D has had on the band, or at least on the product the band delivers. As their first LP without the founding member, the band’s fifth full-length sounds more-or-less like the previous ones, which is both a blessing and curse for a band that has so much rooted in its “sound” and relies heavily on ambiance and atmosphere rather than songwriting and musicianship. That said, El Pintor doesn’t sound like a band settling or overly comfortable.
Interpol stand tall among the New York guitar acts that blew up in the early 2000s, back when rock fans watched bands through plumes of cigarette smoke instead of through phones. They hit the ground running with two classics of night-prowling melodrama – 2002's Turn on the Bright Lights and 2004's Antics. El Pintor is their first in four years, as well as their first without bassist/fashion plate/holster model Carlos D.
Each song on Interpol's El Pintor - their comeback album after a four-year break and their first without bassist Carlos Dengler - is what we've come to expect from the New Yorker indie rockers: post-punk goth drama, intricate bass lines, rigid drums that keep it all in check. On opening track All The Rage Back Home, singer Paul Banks (who's also taken over bass duties) moans his signature monotone drawl before erupting with energy the likes of which we haven't experienced since their sophomore album, Antics. On Same Town, New Story, it's the same type of vocal delivery over throbbing drums and piercing guitar.
In retrospect, Interpol will always be remembered for succeeding at playing the tired aesthetic of post-punk gloom by tweaking it with a highly tuneful sound coupled with emotionally dense prose. They’re responsible for some of the most incomprehensible sing-along choruses in recent history, abstractions without any intrinsic value, but they know to unleash a powerful hook at just the right time. There was also something seductive about their black-clad, cosmopolitan image, which created a polarizing effect amongst purists who thought the stylistic makeover was futile, a distraction to promote the dank allure of early 21st century New York cool.
"Ooh, fuck the ancient ways," begins El Pintor's Ancient Ways, suggesting that Interpol's first album as a trio (following the exit of bassist Carlos Dengler) marks an audacious departure from the past. In fact, their fifth set isn't dissimilar to 2002's Turn on the Bright Lights, all coiled, icy riffs and sonorous vocals. There are precious few real surprises, then, but that's not a problem when, as on Tidal Wave and current single All the Rage Back Home, Paul Banks's band craft songs that are jagged, dark yet unashamedly populist.
Interpol's record trajectory has been a steady decline, from their impressive debut LP, 2002's Turn on the Bright Lights, to their lukewarmly-received self-titled record, released in 2010. While El Pintor bucks the trend by being better than its immediate predecessor, it still finds the post-punk revivalists a bit off from the sinister, calculated masterminds they were at their genesis. El Pintor's best moments are when the band tries something new, like the abrupt tempo shift 50 seconds into opener "All the Rage Back Home," that turns the slurred track into a bruising barroom rocker.
Death to Interpol. Death to all neo-baritone-core. Death to The National. Death to Editors. If you really wanted to take a leaf out of Joy Division's book, you all should've called it a day after two albums. It's 2014, for God's sake..
When Interpol went out on their first tour behind their 2002 album Turn on the Bright Lights, Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard imparted some prophetic advice for drummer Sam Fogarino at an Ohio stop: “Don’t sell more than 50,000 records or you’re in trouble. ” Nine years later, the album was certified Gold by the RIAA—that’s 500,000 units sold in the U. S.
Take a step back for a second and ask yourself a question: why the hell do people bother singing about pain? Seriously, what’s the point of waving dejection and suffering under someone else’s nose? What does a singer who engages in such a bizarre ritual hope to achieve? Well, to take this week’s advertisement for pornographic despair qua cultural institution, Interpol might possibly claim that it serves to aid the whole recovery process via catharsis, to purge our systems of misery, and ultimately grow as people on various emotional, psychological, and spiritual levels. Unfortunately, this is bullshit, and even the most superficial listen to the anhedonic mire of the Interpol catalog would reveal that Paul Banks and co. have never moved beyond the melancholia of their debut.
Interpol put itself in an enviable predicament with its debut, 2002’s Turn On The Bright Lights. Loaded with a dark, sensual hybrid of indie rock and post-punk, the band exploded onto the music scene with a fully realized sound and aesthetic on its very first album. For each successive effort, the band edged ever so slightly away from what made that first one so great—layering existential dread with dance-friendly grooves—until the results had become a droning, miserablist impression of its former self with a few bright spots here and there that hinted at former glory (2010’s self-titled Interpol).
Against the odds, Interpol is back with its fifth studio album, "El Pintor" (Matador), and it wears the scars of the band's fractured past well. One is tempted to say Interpol sounds rejuvenated, though that's a strange word to apply to a band whose music has always been shrouded in tension and gloom. But it's clearly a return to the form of its first two defining albums, way back at the start of the new century.
Four years have passed since 2010’s Interpol and the departure of bassist Carlos Dengler; for their fifth LP Interpol simultaneously maintain their charged, melancholic rock and tread new grounds. El Pintor is the first album without Dengler’s contribution and the first time lead singer Paul Banks plays both guitar and bass; despite the loss of a band member the post-punk sounds remain as beefy, loud and moody as ever. El Pintor is not Antics or Turn on the Bright Lights, there are not as many immediate hooks and riffs that were present on these earlier releases; instead, the solid music on El Pintor unveils a nuanced mellowing that has taken over the last two releases from Interpol.
Twelve years on, Interpol’s debut might have been the best and worst thing ever to happen to the band. “Turn on the Bright Lights” became a defining album for both the group and its era, a landmark document of New York’s rock renaissance in the early 2000s. It was so lauded, in fact, that it became a hard act to follow, with each successive release often deemed a pale imitation of the masterwork.
After four years of silence, New York’s brood rock prodigal sons Interpol broke their hiatus in July with the release of the new single, All The Rage Back Home. Accompanied by a cinematic black and white video, the compelling song served as the official introduction for the band’s fifth studio album, El Pintor, and all we can say is, welcome back. The 2010 departure of Carlos Dengler, the band’s bassist and founding member, seems to have tightened the bonds of the remaining trio, allowing a confident exploration of their distinctive dark elements.
opinion byBENJI TAYLOR < @BenjiTaylorMade > The turn of the millennium passes by without incident. The world’s computers don’t shut down; SkyNet doesn’t trigger a nuclear showdown between nervous super-powers; there’s no asteroid-induced global meltdown. Instead, something even more gut-wrenchingly horrendous happens: Coldplay release their debut album Parachutes, and commence their stratospheric ascent to biggest-band-in-the-world status.
There is one line on El Pintor, Interpol's fifth new album that cuts right to the quick. Paul Banks, summoning a falsetto mightier than anything we've heard from him before, slowly starts to assemble his mood within a blizzard of scourging guitar chords, deliberating the unforgiving conundrums of life that are weighing him down. He chants, "Feels like the whole world is up on my shoulders." And if that, that bitter fusion of delusion and desperation is not a picture-perfect distillation of what it means to live in this era, no matter how old you are, it's difficult to know what is.