Thursday, September 23, 2010
Paul Banks’ atonal vocal style could be considered a limiting factor by a lesser outfit. In many ways it defines Interpol’s sound; you know it’s them as soon as he opens his mouth, it’s unmistakable. It also polarises listeners. For some the vocal is enough to discard their music as repetitive or drab, for others it acts as an entry point to something much larger, a temptation, a lure. Those that dare to immerse themselves in this, their fourth full-length release, will find apt reward in the riches within.
As per every release thus-far, it does take effort. At first glance the opening stanza is harmless enough, atypical of Interpol’s slow-twisting album openings. It leads you along a familiar path, takes you in its arms and pushes you off a cliff into the plummeting tumult that is fourth track ‘Lights’. You forget how you got to this point, revisit the beginning and discover a fiercely brewing cloud; it circles and contorts but you barely noticed.
There is a subtlety to this recording that may well be indicative of the band shedding the major label and going it alone. In the spirit of Radiohead’s In Rainbows (an enormous call I know, but one I’ll stand by wholeheartedly), Interpol manage to pay tribute to their past selves while taking an enormous step beyond anything they’ve produced to date. A simplified and less grandiose approach really lets the listener get a purchase on the thing and explore the individual elements of each song.
With the exception of ‘Barricade’, which could’ve been lifted from either of the band’s previous two releases, this album demonstrates a abandoning of both pretence and circumspection. Through this paring back they grant us entry to the world they create and allow us to experience all of its darkest places.