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August 02, 2007
If you were to engage a random person in conversation about an austere looking member of Interpol, with a relentless side parting and sartorial style redolent of an SS guard ready to send a dissenter in Hitler’s Germany to their death, they would most likely think you were referring to an over-zealous member of the International Criminal Police Organisation. Relatively few would realise that the subject of discussion was Carlos Dengler, the bass player from New-Wave revivalists Interpol, whose idiosyncratic dress sense very often overshadows the music of his band. Indeed, trendy music publications were quick to declare that these Indie hipsters had undergone a transformation in the last year or so, on the basis that Dengler now sports a moustache like an old cad from an Evelyn Waugh television adaptation.
It’s ever so slightly worrying that the press has often focused more on Interpol’s visual cool rather than their sound; an urgent mix of chiming, intertwining guitars propelled by a heavy discofied rhythm section. Recently signed to a major record label, Interpol have indeed been changing, and new record ‘Our Love To Admire’ displays huge progression from the relatively simple guitars-drums-bass format used previously.
Opener ‘Pioneers to the Falls’ begins with a typically spectral Daniel Kessler guitar motif, and blooms into a deliciously filmic and graceful elegy, replete with reverb soaked piano and doleful oboe, peaking with a spine-tingling shower of tremolo guitar, all strangely bringing to mind Nino Rota’s majestic score for The Godfather. Indeed, it is quite easy to imagine this song being set to a gangster flick, with a bunch of immaculately dressed mafiosos huddle around a grave, paying their last respects to an unfortunate victim of a rival family. So mournful, but oh so suave.
So magnificent is this richly orchestrated opener, with keyboards brought to the fore, and Paul Bank’s sepulchral voice more clear and confident than ever before, that we initially barely notice the pared down sound of the the band’s celebrated rhythm section; Dengler’s probing bass lines and Sam Fogarino’s buoyant drumming having been the driving force behind the Interpol of old. Unfortunately, whereas on ‘Pioneers’, and ethereal closer ‘Lighthouse’ this new balance worked perfectly, elswhere, songs such as ‘Scale’ and ‘All Fired Up’ barely make an impact, relying too much on Kessler’s relentlesslys scratchy, high gain guitar.
However, traces of the old order are not entirely absent, and first single ‘The Heinrich Manouever’ swaggers with the same muscular confidence of ‘Slow Hands’ and ‘Obstacle 1’, and ‘Mammoth’ is a terrifying, propulsive rocker built around the vocal refrain ‘Spare me the suspense’, more then ever justifying comparisons to Joy Division, those famous gloom mongerers of old. However, the cadavarous fashionista quartet clearly can allow themselves a joke now and again, as witnessed in ‘No I in Threesome’, a careening, histrionic plea for a menage-a-trois as a radical restorative to an ailing relationship, which revels in its own absurdity.