Photograph by Jelle Wagenaar

When your first album is Turn on the Bright Lights, getting back to those heights is a nigh-impossible feat. Perhaps unfairly, every subsequent Interpol release has been and will be compared to their debut. I was one of the few who actually liked third album Our Love to Admire, but even I can admit that it had some clunkers (I’m looking at you, ‘The Scale’). Truthfully, I think the jump to a major label was part of the reason for the backlash. Though made with major label dollars, the self-titled album returns the band to Matador Records. Pre-release interviews suggested a return to the sound of Bright Lights, which is partially true.

The subject matter is desperate. The album cover is the band’s logo shattered, perhaps a comment on bassist Carlos D, who appears on the album, but left the band shortly after recording. The lyrics are about as obscure as they’ve ever been, but I don’t take bad lyrics to be a valid criticism. ‘Say Hello to the Angels’ contains the line “Your hair is so pretty and red / baby baby you’re really the best.” Interpol’s lyrics have always read like bad poetry, I consider that to be part of the charm.

Perhaps ironically due to Carlos D’s recent departure, the bass presence is considerably upped, one of the many knocks against Our Love to Admire. ‘Barricade’ serves as a showcase for the rhythm section in general, and is the obvious highlight of the album. The crack in Paul Banks’ voice during the backing vocals of “you know us…” serves as one of those memorable musical moments that just lets the emotion bleed through. However, for all its goodness, ‘Barricade’ also marks a turning point for the album. Taken on their own, the following five tracks are perfectly adequate, but they all share a dirge-like tone that causes them to flow into each other. It’s a dark, slow album that would definitely benefit from having some time to sink in, and perhaps an upbeat track or two.

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— , September 20, 2010    1 Comment

Julian Plenti

I’ve made no secret of being an Interpol fan. One of the first “indie” bands I had learned of, I remember scouring the web on a 56k modem for new material, delighting as I discovered Turn on the Bright Lights song by song, as a small-town record store carrying anything not on a major label was unheard of. Any material between albums was ravenously devoured, even something as insubstantial as the droning ‘Direction’ from the Six Feet Under soundtrack. This hasn’t changed for me, so when first hearing of a Paul Banks’ solo debut, my ears understandably perked up.

Interpol is often said to be a full band effort, with all four members contributing, so it’s interesting to hear what the lyricist/vocalist has to offer all by his lonesome. Thus far, the only taste of this was Paul Banks’ remix of  ‘Narc’ from Interpol’s second, Antics, which transformed the song into an eerie and sparse acoustic ballad. To these ears, it was still intriguing. While Interpol have never strayed too far from their post-punk roots, Julian Plenti…Is Skyscraper finds Banks experimenting with a wide variety of new sounds. Lyrically, the album doesn’t deviate much from previous Interpol material. Meaning yes, every song is still basically about sex, and yes, there are some embarrassing lines, but I consider that part of the charm.

The opening track ‘Only If You Run’ strikes me as both an obvious future single and one of the album’s strongest tracks. Simple and straightforward, I get a ‘Where Is My Mind?’ vibe from it. ‘Fun That We Have’ was the first track made available to the general public, and while I was initially put off by the awkward bleeps and bloops during the chorus interspersed with rants about telekinesis, it’s definitely a grower. The title track ‘Skyscraper’ begins as a quiet acoustic melody that slowly grows, layer upon layer. From the haunting keys, to strings, to the background vocals just barely there, the atmosphere is second to none. ‘Games for Days’ is an Interpol meets Bloc Party pastiche that fares well, with the typically lecherous lyrics intertwined with a dancy beat. ‘Madrid Song’ takes a more sombre mood, with the defiant “come have at us, we are strong” interspersed with a recording similar to Our Love to Admire b-side ‘Mind Over Time’…

Julian Plenti – Only If You Run
Julian Plenti – Fun That We Have
Julian Plenti – On The Esplanade

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— , July 14, 2009    2 Comments

interpol1

The ever elusive Interpol have broken their silence to give an update on the recording of their forthcoming fourth album. Word is the songs sound ‘vital,’ and the band looks forward to unleashing it upon the masses to let it ‘swagger and breathe.’

kidding aside, there are few bands I follow with an almost obsessive fervor. Interpol is one of those bands. Never the most prolific band, any sign of new material leaves me terribly excited. I remember the lead up to Antics, scouring the web for any trace of the new stuff, eventually seeing them perform Evil, Slow Hands, and Narc at Curiosa. Direction, the oft-forgotten B-side contributed to a Six Feet Under compilation disc, held me over between albums two and three. In the YouTube age, finding Our Love to Admire material was considerably easier, and hearing Pioneer to the Falls from a poor quality live recording didn’t prepare me for hearing the real thing in person.

As you can imagine, I am rather into Interpol, and through my powers of irrational speculation, I’m going to guess we’ll see a new album by fall of this year, as a similar cryptic message was delivered in the months preceding OLTA’s release. In the mean time, I’ll leave you with some of my favourites.

Interpol – Leif Erikson
Interpol – Public Pervert
Interpol – Rest My Chemistry

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— , March 10, 2009    5 Comments

Interpol

Post-punk was one of the most creative periods in music history, and lucky for us it still hasn’t ended. But being that it was so creative, there were so many styles of post-punk; it could be funk/r&b (with a sax to boot), it could be electronica, it could be absolutely tuneless, and/or it could be personal and harrowing. And most forms came with my favourite ingredient: angular riffs. There is no doubt in my mind that the premier champions of the later form were Joy Division. And with everyone going ga ga over everything post-punk in the new millenium since The Strokes and The Rapture made it cool again, there are three bands which truly perfected the sound which Joy Division started in Manchester so many years ago. Those bands are The Organ, The Stills, and Interpol. I just love this selection because not only do I think it’s accurate, but also two of the bands are Canadian. The Organ broke up earlier this year, The Stills second album showed a departure from the sound which I said they had perfected, but Interpol is still kicking.

Although very few of the details have been confirmed, Interpol will be releasing their third album Moderation on June 5. There is no touring scheduled yet, except for an appearance at Coachella, and we don’t know much else. But this is exciting news, and Ca Va Cool will keep updating as new information is revealed.

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— , April 5, 2007    6 Comments