Released: Sep 9, 2014
Genre: Indie Rock, Post-Punk
Number Of Tracks: 10
After a dismal fourth album, Interpol bring things back to a satisfying level with their fifth album, "El Pintor."
El PintorFeatured review by: UG Team, on september 10, 2014 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The 21st-century channeling of Joy Division that goes by the name of Interpol can be argued both ways. While some may turn their nose at the strong emulation of the post-punk pioneers from yesteryear (though this is a microcosm of the whole argument against new-school bands simply ripping off the classics), more have come to enjoy the post-punk revival that Interpol brought to the table, most likely because the band did it with their critically-acclaimed debut album, "Turn on the Bright Lights." Their next following albums, "Antics" and "Our Love to Admire," continued Interpol's initial appeal adequately, though the repetition in sound and the inability to top their debut would have Interpol's impact beginning to fade. The band's state of being would take a substantial dive in 2010, where the founding member/remarkable bassist Carlos Dengler quit the band after finishing Interpol's fourth album, "Interpol," in a presumably cold fashion (a recent interview with drummer Sam Fogarino reveals the band and Dengler haven't been on speaking terms ever since Dengler's departure), and "Interpol" would end up being a failure, receiving the most lukewarm feedback of any Interpol album. While that substantial one-two punch to Interpol's career raised the speculation that the band's days may be coming to an end, ultimately, they limped along; but now, Interpol are ready and hopeful to bring back their status to a higher point with their fifth album, "El Pintor."
The anagram album title alone warrants a wince-worthy first impression, with the creatively uncreative title possibly preceding forty minutes of lackluster music that could echo the unsatisfactory content of "Interpol." But as the album's first moments of a warm sliding guitar riff and organ in "All the Rage Back Home" opens into a strong upbeat/positive track (one of the things Interpol's previous album was devoid of), the pleasing first step of "El Pintor" quickly raises expectations and excitement for what more is to come. Frontman Paul Banks took charge of composing the basslines in this album, and while all in all, they aren't anything to write home about, they also aren't unredeemable dead weight. In lieu of the integral element Carlos D's bass brought to Interpol, "El Pintor" shows an emphasis on the guitar elements: the lead riffs in "My Desire" and "Same Town, New Story" bank on hammer-on activity and emote a bluesy sorrow, while the numerous guitar lines in "Anywhere" and "Everything Is Wrong" weave intricately and display a new level of complexity for the band. "Everything Is Wrong" also makes the best case for Interpol's cardinal "weeping tremolo" trick that they've arguably perfected in earlier songs like "NYC" and "Pioneer to the Falls," but they end up utilizing the tremolo lines too much in "El Pintor," which hits its point of diminishing returns in the constant stampeding of "Ancient Ways" and reduces itself to a nuisance in the album's ending ballad "Twice as Hard." The synth usage still remains at levels akin to the band's last album, but instead of leading tracks with aimless permeation like in "Interpol," their support strengthens tracks like "My Desire" and "Same Town, New Story," and shine brightest in the penultimate track "Tidal Wave"; albeit the opening synth loop in "Tidal Wave" is a clear callback to Joy Division, this is also one of Interpol's strongest tracks composed in a while. // 7
Lyrics: Banks has always played the role of enigma when it came to the lyrics he's penned - from never elaborating the meanings of the things he's written (which, in many cases, have had questionable sense to them), to his marble-filled mouth mumbling warranting varying lyrical transcriptions from secondary sources. But if one thing's for sure, Banks' lyrics contain a Morrissey-esque despair to them, and "El Pintor" is no different. In fact, Banks bears his tattered heart on his sleeve more openly, and cuts to the chase of sorrow with lines like "in my desire, I'm a frustrated man" in "My Desire," "I'm inclined 'cause I've seen my dreams defied" in "Breaker 1," "some of us die heroes/at least they'll never suffer" in "Anywhere." This is clearly a stronger channeling of Banks' inner Morrissey, but with Morrissey currently busy singing about how much the world sucks compared to him, Banks' lyrics here fill a recently-opened void rather than obsoletely duplicating. Of course, Banks' blunt approach does hit the wall of clichés at times, like "feels like the whole world's coming down on me" in "Same Town, New Story," "you know all about me/that's what's so frightening" in "Anywhere," and "only one in a hundred make it/we fake until there's nothing to fake" in "My Blue Supreme." // 7
Overall Impression: Though Interpol thankfully stray away from the path they took with "Interpol," they end up running back to their original formula that constructed their first three albums. When you put yourself in the shoes of Interpol's psyche, this makes complete sense: when a previous attempt to dabble in new methods reaps poor results, what better way to make up for lost ground than to return to the successful method? On the plus side, Interpol's compositions this time around make for some more memorable additions to the band's discography, but the underlying issue with "El Pintor" is that it once again sticks within the confines of where Interpol's sound began, and once again, the band stares down the barrel of staleness. However, this issue is easy to forgive due to "El Pintor" re-quenching a thirst that came from the barren "Interpol," and while it isn't Interpol sounding new, it is Interpol sounding improved. // 7