Thursday 18 January 2018

Music: Interpol by Interpol **

(Soft Limit)

John Meagher

John Meagher

How the mighty have fallen. Interpol made a huge impact back in 2002 with their debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights, a dark, brooding and beautiful record with shades of Joy Division.

Two years later, its follow-up, Antics, showed a slight dip in form, but it was still pretty special. Then it all went downhill. Our Love to Admire impressed on initial listen, but its charms were fleeting and now it feels like an overblown, stadium-baiting misstep.

Which brings us to this, their fourth album and the last to feature bassist Carlos D, who quit the band immediately after the album was recorded. He clearly sensed the band's creativity was shot, even though his purposeful bass provides some of the album's best moments.

Over the course of 10 songs, many of them over-long and over-produced, Interpol sound tired, like they know they're having to plunder old territory because they're bereft of inspiration.

From the off, these ponderous, portentous songs fail to captivate the way their old material did. All the dots have been joined, yet the songs lack power and are poor facsimiles of what went before.

Frontman Paul Banks released a well regarded solo album last year -- Julian Plenti is Skyscraper -- and one might have thought that such an eclectic collection would point the way towards a more adventurous Interpol. Not a bit of it. The lack of variety here is quite shocking, and the uniform nature of the songs brings into sharp relief the limitation of Banks's monotone vocals and his oh-so-naff lyrics. For evidence, look no further than Barricade, a single so lame it's hard to believe that the same personnel were responsible for such marvellous songs as NYC and C'mere.

There are occasional glimmers of what a fine band this once was -- the epic Lights is potent and would have been all the better if a minute had been snipped off its run-time, while Always Malaise (The Man I Am) boasts a memorable use of piano.

Closer The Undoing is a woozy, disorientating piece that manages to find room for Spanish vocals and cinematic flights of fancy. It doesn't work as well as it might, but at least it shows some daring. It's just a shame that this album is so short on risk-taking.

Interpol return to Ireland for a three-night stand in Dublin's Olympia from November 29. What a pity that they will be relying on old songs to tide them over.

Burn it: Always Malaise (The Man I Am)

Irish Independent

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