Interpol – Our Love to Admire

July 13, 2007

Interpol - Our Love to AdmirePeople don’t want to listen to ‘derivative’ music because sounds that they’ve heard before get boring, and because for some reason (artistic integrity? a connection between sound innovation and other musical abilities and talent?), those who first develop a new type of sound are often the best at that sound. This Interpol album is derivative, just like all past Interpol albums, but it’s neither boring nor without talent, so it’s not really a problem, any more than [insert indie band here] sounding a bit like the Pixies makes them suck.

Yeah, they sound a bit like Joy Division and the Cure. Sure. But Interpol keep expanding their sound, and this is their most varied album yet. Indeed, while bits of it sound like Turn on the Bright Lights, and bits of it sound like Antics, most of it sounds totally fresh. Both previous albums had only one sound, repeated with slight variations across the album, but this album has several different, strong styles. Our Love to Admire moves from influence to influence, thought to thought, better than any of their previous work. It has its own emotional and stylistic arc, created by some great sequencing. It’s no Closer, and it isn’t as good as the A-side of TotBL either (few things are as good as either of those), but it’s a very talented piece of work.

And to be honest, Interpol now sound less like their supposed influences than ever before, and sound more like U2 and arena rock. So, by any good indie logic, Interpol have gone from being derivative to being derivative sell-outs. Sigh. Regardless, my point is simple: Interpol use their influences well, just as they have in the past, and combine them with real song-writing talent. There is a backlash against them which I think stems not from this album, but from Antics and the move to a major label. The first album made them sound like they were geniuses, and the second just wasn’t as fresh. Rather than growing on people, it shrank under close inspection: The obvious conclusion is that they’re overrated. Now they’re on a major label sounding more like 80’s U2. Uh-oh. Time to talk about how some supposed ‘magic’ is gone from their sound.

But they’ve got a great sound here: “Pioneer to the Falls” is moody, and builds from a slow riff to keyboards, horns, and choirs while never sounding fake. “No I in Threesome” is great fun with a stylish keyboard bit that just collapses under massive guitars. This is a good time to mention that the lyrics are no longer as gloomy and existential. If what you loved about Interpol was the sense of ‘urban decay’, or whatever, conveyed by their lyrics, well, it ain’t here (or at least not until the end of the album). But honestly, I’ve always felt that Interpol were overrated as lyricists: A few good songs, and a large number that are just awful. I mean, “NYC” is considered brilliant by some, but it’s not a song you can sing along to without feeling like an idiot (“subway is a porno?”). It’s good to hear Interpol expanding their vocabulary, even if a song about a threesome is perhaps a bad direction for them to be heading (the last thing Interpol needs is more tongue-in-cheek hipster irony… at least not until they develop a sense of humor).

Both “Heinrich Maneuver” and “Mammoth” are fantastic tunes. “Heinrich” sounds too much like every other Interpol song (damn catchy though), but “Mammoth” is brand fucking new: “Spare me the suspense” repeated over a jumpy bass and guitars that drone hypnotically if dissonantly in a song of surprising grace and thoughtfulness. The switch to major key at 1:45 and again later is pretty welcome too. It’s a truly awesome track. The middle of the album drags a bit. “All Fired Up” makes me happy though, with its great bass line, and “Rest My Chemistry” is a good albeit slightly too slow and repetitive album centerpiece. The last two tracks, though, are both excellent. They’re a return to the gloom, but with more pop elements than Interpol has ever used with that sound before. Both are also structured interestingly, with a lot of action happening in the small details: Quiet keyboard lines enter and exit, guitars bend and wave, moments of silence stretch, tension and sorrow mix. Good shit.

7.7/10

MP3: Interpol – Mammoth
MP3: Interpol – Wrecking Ball

posted by nerdbound

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