Somewhere along the line, and somewhat inexplicably, Interpol began to go wrong. Their last two albums - 2007's Our Love To Admire and their self-titled effort of a World Cup ago - played like watered-down versions of what went before.
It was as if they'd found themselves in a rut, or had eyes on solo projects, but whatever the issue, their produce was suffering. So what a pleasant surprise El Pintor turns out to be. Opening salvo All The Rage Back Home immediately and urgently places them back in the realm of the relevant. It's not so much the sound of a band that enjoys being together in the same room again, but rather a band that has re-found the best way to spark off one another. Sam Fogarino's metronomic, cymbal-flecked drums offer rigid maypole around which Daniel Kessler's guitar lines skip to a menacing, detached Banks vocal.
Banks is still a dab hand at the ghostly anthemic number, as Breaker 1 illustrates. The busy Ancient Ways has a quickened pulse, a cold sweat and a glare in its eye, with Banks seemingly chastising bands burdened by yoke of a city's musical heritage, indeed "beaten by the weight of it". It's a pity that this record hadn't reared its head earlier in the summer, for a track like Anywhere would sound just perfect drifting from a late-night festival main stage set, with a slight nip in the air. The fatalistic Everything Is Wrong could as easily be about a personal relationship, as perhaps where Interpol found themselves prior to this record. Thankfully, El Pintor paints a beautifully gloomy picture of a band again reaching a lost peak.
Interpol: El Pintor 4/5
Listening to it now, it's funny to think that without Van Morrison, one of the most influential albums of the 90's might actually sound markedly different. Odelay bursts out of the blocks with 'Devil's Haircut', a track that samples a Them break, while one of it's gentler moments - 'Jackass' - is built around Them's cover of 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue'. That each of these elements now just sound like Beck's own are testament to Odelay's influence and durability.
18 years on from its release, it still sounds like it was made yesterday, with a breadth of vision actually more in step with the current border-less musical landscape. 'Novacane' is hip hop-fed noise-rock, 'Readymade' is stoner rock as produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry, and there's the weary country strum of 'Ramshackle'. Throw in the two turntables and a microphone of 'Where It's At' and you have a bonafide classic. Beck could turn his hand to anything and, as the years have proved, and not only make it work, but make it his own.
A fixture of several "ones to watch in 2014" polls, Banks' debut drops with just under four months of this transfer window left. In places, the hype is justified. The sludgy synths of the title track bring a James Blake-influenced noir to the table, while 'This Is What It Feels Like' sounds not far off a murkier Lorde. Where the album suffers is its length.
While brave to offer such an expansive debut, themes are repeated and diluted in the process. Three ballads, for instance, is two too many where the acoustic 'Someone New' might have done. But the cocksure groove of 'Begging For Thread' keeps the second half alive.
Death From Above 1979: The Physical World
It's just over eight years since this Canadian pair decided to split, and since then their reputation has only grown. So returning can be tricky, but there is a swagger throughout that shows Keeler & Grainger hold no such fears. 'Nothin' Left' has a Sabbath-esque drive, while the likes of 'Always On' and 'Government Trash' will flat-out relieve you of your lingering dandruff problem. This is a very assured, danceable, modern rock record. If you've recently been turned on to Royal Blood, or crave Queens of the Stone Age's early riffing, you'll enjoy your visit to The Physical World.
BAD NEIGHBOURS (16)
When a college fraternity moves in next door to new parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), the couple head over to remind Delta Psi Beta's incredibly handsome leader that they're still young, still with it, and just to keep it down, you know, no worries. What starts as an amicable arrangement quickly dissolves into a nasty feud between the young family and the frat's president (Zac Efron) and vice-president (Dave Franco).
Thick with gags, Rogen is predictably charming and funny, but Byrne, Franco and Efron deliver some of the biggest laughs.
Three computer scientists, played with mumbling intensity by Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall, attempt to cheat death by uploading a human consciousness to a powerful super computer.
Taking on big ideas with an even bigger cast, Transcendence does an admirable job of attempting to explore themes of artificial intelligence, consciousness and some more esoteric ideas usually relegated to schlocky science-fiction. It unfortunately falls down on fundamentals like pacing and performance, feeling strangely disconnected from itself.
BIOSHOCK iOS, €14.99, iTunes App Store
Featuring incredible graphics, publisher 2K have managed to bring 2007's noir thriller set under the sea to iPhone and iPad (though we definitely recommend not playing on an iPhone). A huge and well-written masterpiece of modern gaming, it is one of the smartest and best shooters of the last ten years. However, the on-screen controls can be annoyingly spongy and unresponsive, though it apparently plays very well with physical bluetooth controllers.
THE WALKING DEAD: SEASON 2, PC / Mac: €22.99, steampowered.com, iOS: €18.48, iTunes App Store, PS3, Xbox 360: €8
Picking up where the first season of Telltale Games' hugely popular game left off, the five episode run of the second season has some clever touches, but the most striking thing is, again, the unremitting grimness and harshness, often making for an intense experience.
While it will be too much for some, the violence and viscera are driven by strong storytelling, voice acting and a cinematic sensibility that makes this less of a video game and more of an interactive TV show. We recommend picking it up for iOS so you can dip into it on the go, like a great book.