Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Interpol - (2010 Self-titled Album) - Micro-Review

It was a rushed morning, I was coming back from a rare appointment with the doctor which reminded myself of the age I am now forced to be mindful of, and so, reeling with worries and doubts of the future in general I was distracted out of my numb platitude by the radio in my aging old black prelude. The new INTERPOL album has just dropped today! My favorite store would sure to have a copy, and so a small deviation from home and kids and family would naturally be first order on this cool and bright morning.

I arrived at Target with only the morning merchandise stockers and sales people shuffling around in good spirits. When I got to the music area, I dodged my way smugly around the morning meeting, a flinting memory to my old days as a early morning salesman at many electronic stores in the area. Go Team Go! and Be HAPPY and HELPFUL!  I felt many bored and curious eyes watch as I grabbed the brand new album on the top shelf of the 'New Release' rack, just as I heard the manager state to his children- "Umm..and today the band 'Interpol' has a new release...Weezer.." Just then I turned and smiled sheepishly at everyone watching me grab THE very first copy of the store, heck, probably in my CITY..that morning!  I was pretty excited actually - when my wife and I saw this band a few years back at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland during the 'Our Love to Admire' Tour, we were both effectively blown away by how crisp, clean, and beautiful they sounded...my wife adding that they were extremely well dressed young lads. I was enthralled by the precision and relentless drumming of Sam Fogarino, the arena-filling majesty that was Mr. Daniel Kessler and his Rickenbacker. (In other words, they rocked), and I quickly began to realize they would be one of my all-time, long staying favorite bands.  They already had won me over with the amazing 'Antics' album, with the song 'Evil' impossible to keep out of my head.

I read a brief in SPIN magazine that all was not as they had hoped...but that all wasn't lost. So I was hoping for the best. Back at my car, tearing the wrapping off and flipping the plastic case open...it fell off into my hand-the hinge broken into pieces. Apparently picking the first on the shelf wasn't so good an idea. I groaned- oh nooo....a bad omen?

It's apparent that this record is split right in two, between the stronger/faster tracks within the first 5, then comes screeching to a halt right after Barricade- the first radio single. Not that this in itself is bad, just that it leaves one wanting a nice fire-branded, energy track on the second half -which begins to trail off into experimental techno-ballads with some nice moments here and there. The setup here suggests strongly a thematic and artistic quality to the album, which is probably what garners it the most consternation among casual listeners, if not long-time fans.

First song- Success= Nice...so far so good!... I liked how it's moody layers grabbed me. I instantly thought, if this is a sign of things to come, I'll be quite happy with this album. If there is a song most like their old albums here, it would be this one.  Many swirling vocal lines and atmosheric orchestrations hovering like mist in the background. A memorable line: "I've got two secrets , but I only told you one"

Second song-Memory Serves- Ok, but the chorus seems almost too layered with Pauls vocals. Again, stylistic choices.

Now..the third song- Summer Well- At first this song raises an eyebrow, then gets your fingers tapping as you admire the intricate percussion, then a pulsing base line-like an old Atari game theme, the quiet piano marching before Paul Banks low musings..then BAM, that burst of sound and guitar and singing all in a millisecond announce that they are not a band that has given up it's intense emotional turns. These are among my favorite qualities of the best Interpol songs, how you feel the shift going somewhere, quieter, a different key perhaps, then they catch you off-guard by going where you least expect in the next bridge, or chorus.
This song, is epic. By far the #1 best quality song on this album, and one that I try to avoid listening to too much, because it is simply amazing and I don't ever want it to wear out.
Lights is a strong song, it is a linear song, like a march up a cliff..it begins with a pleading man for a lost love...the steady beat driving you ever onward...presumably to a climax that releases a mountain of pent up longing..but alas, a peak that doesn't come. The song maintains this steady climb and then just fades out...not one change before the fall. Not so much a fall but a wither away.

Barricade grows on you, if only for its sheer energy and restlessness. At first I didn't know what to make of Paul's higher than normal pitched chorus...but it equates itself to frantic desperation, which seems fitting for a song desperate to either go back to, or get into something or somewhere it once was. Many of Interpol's songs are maddeningly vague with the lyrics, so one is left to form their own story- which is perhaps what they, as many, great artists want you to do.

As for the second half of the album..well...you should give it a great many turns, and don't dismiss it on first listen. Many whom find fault in these songs, should wonder if perhaps they have little patience to spare in this world of 20 second sound-bytes. It is part of the overall story, and it is as valid as any unique young artists surrealistic painting to study.

This record, like the long-time fans will tell you, grows on you. It hasn't left my ol' cars CD player for a month now. As much as I want to take it out for fear of ruining it, I go back to that song #3 every morning...to study it a bit more.

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