Interpol. Consistently on my list of “top 5 favorite bands of all-time.” In some ways, I think that makes me have higher expectations, but in others, I think I give them some leeway. I’m trying to be as honest with myself as I can with this review, but you have been warned.
This release crept up on me. I did hear the singles as they came out, but didn’t realize the album was out until a friend sent me a link to it. Obviously I put it on as soon as I could. Their latest EP prior to this release, A Fine Mess, is probably my favorite all-around release from them (despite it only being an EP), so you can imagine how excited I was to put it on.
First single up? Toni. Hmm. Interesting choice. It’s unmistakably Interpol, but it’s not a particularly catchy song. The chorus feels muted, though his vocals do change slightly. Overall it’s a bit of a dull song. Ok, but that’s only one, so let’s give this a chance!
Something Changed. Not within me, that’s the name of the second single. It’s not all that much different than Toni. Perhaps a bit more energetic in the chorus. The bass tone takes an interesting twist in this song and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Fogarino’s drumming is great as usual, though.
The third single came out and dropped my expectations quite a bit. The chord progression is interesting, particularly in the pre-chorus, but there’s something about this song that feels like a B-side from an older album.
Gran Hotel was the final single. Initial impressions were not great with this song, but on further listening, I do like it quite a bit. It’s a grower, not a shower!
That’s it for the singles, let’s get on with the impressions of the album as a whole. First listen fell flat. I actually messaged my buddy and said “I’m not sure about this new Interpol album.” He agreed. It’s not just me! The pacing is quite slow, but that’s really because almost all of the songs are slow. I’m not sure how they could’ve reworked the track listing to make it fit together any better, it’s just not an exciting album overall. I did find it interesting to see that they spaced their singles out into tracks 1, 2, 5, and 9. The album hits its stride in the middle of Into the Night, hitting its apex with Mr. Credit, and then falls back into mediocre territory around Passenger. For track numbers, that’s half of track 3 through track 6 that are what I would consider the best part of the album.
Songs That Stick Out
Mr. Credit is by far my favorite song on this album. It starts out with a rhythmic “bigness” that most of the other songs don’t have. The bass drives this song and sounds great. The chorus has a great melody and some interesting background guitars that complement the main riff well.
Something Changed isn’t a track that would stick out in any other Interpol album, but it’s pretty solid on this release. I already mentioned the drumming and bass.
Gran Hotel is the last song I’d really point out. There are a couple things that make this a questionable listen, especially on the first or second pass. The melody of the pre-chorus is a bit strange, but it grew on me. The final chorus(?) is fantastic and I wish it went longer. It really picks up a song that could’ve been on the clunkier side of the album had it not been here. This song doesn’t have a traditional pop verse-chorus-verse structure, but it’s better because of it.
I’ve tried, but I cannot get into Greenwich. There’s something really strange and jarring about the chord progression and timing in the verse that might work better in a Rush song (played at about 50x the speed of this song), but for Interpol, it doesn’t seem to work. I genuinely dislike this song, which is tough to admit.
While there aren’t a ton of what I would consider “skippable songs” on this album, there also aren’t really a lot of “stop by and stay a while” tunes. This is, by far, my least favorite Interpol release. I tried to give it more chances by playing it over and over, even in different moods! The best songs of this album wouldn’t be in the top tier of any other album (or the A Fine Mess EP, obviously). There are albums that have more songs that I immediately skip (up to 2 on a couple releases!), but the overall feeling of this album is .. ennui? This pains me to write.
As always, I will note that these ratings are based entirely upon my enjoyment of the album. It doesn’t take any historic, cultural, political, or musical relevance or influence into account. That said, I give this album a three out of ten. If you’re new to Interpol, I would recommend checking out A Fine Mess, Antics, El Pintor, or Marauder first. All of them are great albums that are tough to beat. Turn On The Bright Lights is also fantastic, but has a distinct sound that doesn’t really carry through their other releases. Maybe hit that one up after you’ve gotten into some of their other stuff.
You can buy the album at your favorite store or stream it from your favorite service, but check out their official site.