Interpol - Interpol

by Alexandra Pett Rating:8.5 Release Date:2010-09-13

As albums go, the latest offering from Interpol is a well-produced, sophisticated, glossily packaged affair. Such expensive processing and sleek wrapping might in other circumstances indicate cynically made chart fodder, but not this record. 'Interpol' has the dramatic, rocky air of a pack of stadium anthems without the tritely predictable ballads and sticky, implausible sentiment. The anthemic riffs and spine tingling key changes are weighed down by good old fashioned cynicism and a world-weariness that gives the record a grown up authenticity. In a fight with Justin Bieber, this record would tank up on whisky, wipe its mouth on its tattooed arm, fight dirty and take home the girl.

"Success" sets out the album's stall straight away with a rocky guitar and the heady mix of sex, self-doubt and been-there-done-that wisdom that spills from Paul Banks' voice box every time he opens his mouth. (How is this man not prime minister? Imagine the wars that would be won.) Then there's "Memory Serves," a freshly unmade bed of a track, heavy with the night before's suggestive scent, that travels from the nonchalant one night stand of the start of the song to full on gritty, soul baring emo as the hangover kicks in.

"Always Malaise (The Man I Am)" is possibly the best song on the record and an epic track at every stage. It grows as you listen to it, prods you in a soft bit from the opening note and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The track uses layers of instruments, from piano through to what sounds like half an orchestra, each new layer a complete surprise. In the end it's like listening to a military attack and you may as well just lie on the floor wherever you are and surrender to it, until the track drops away like a cliff, leaving you with the same sense of vertigo. It's fantastically terrifying.

After the tentative start and lyrical cleverness - "tell me you're mine. Tell me you're mine to break...the ice"- penultimate track "All of the Ways" opens out into five minutes and sixteen seconds of painful, longing vocals about lost love and betrayal. It's a slow, emotionally damaged track that moves as you would if your heart had just been broken. "Try It On" has the kind of repetitive five note keyboarding you'd want to slap a younger sibling for and sounds like it might be the dud of the record. But in an unexpected move, the track is saved by some atmospheric whistling. In fact, there really aren't any obvious howlers on 'Interpol' - "Barricade" has an immorally catchy refrain, "The Undoing" is a fantastic finale full of foreboding and foreignspeak, "Summer Well" is a showcase for an explosion of outrageously lovely drumming, whilst the freebie single "Lights" is full of pseudo religious fervour - Last Supper lyrics and prayer-like vocals. Even "Safe Without," a slightly ominous track with a chorus so emotional and raw you might have to look the other way, is in the end perfectly pitched.

I expect there's already plenty of negative backlash to 'Interpol', from Carlos lovers and industry trendsetters alike, but they'll all still secretly have got hold of a copy because it's just too good not too. Ok so Interpol are not pioneering a genre or using guitars made from gold, but this is hearty fare, made from quality ingredients - the roast beef and yorkshires of the music world. And in an industry peppered with spam and riddled with saveloys, why turn down the chance to wrap your chops around something this satisfying and substantial.

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