Back in 2002, Interpol dug themselves the deepest of holes. That year, the then three-piece band from New York City released their full-length debut Turn on the Bright Lights. Twelve years later, the album is still widely considered one of the more innovative rock albums of the 21st century. An amalgamation of nostalgic 1980’s inspired postpunk and sleek modern indie rock, Interpol drew comparison to past greats such as Joy Division while paving entirely new territory of their own.
After their debut album Turn on the Bright Lights is given best-of-the-decade consideration, Interpol struggled to match the critical response in follow up efforts. In 2010, Interpol’s self-titled fourth studio album found the band running out of material, with vocalist Paul Banks’ simpleton lyrics and unstylistic delivery fading from charming to stale.
On Sept. 9, Interpol returned as a three-piece band with a revamped sound on El Pintor. The new album is void of the forced pop conformity found on the self-titled album. Without producing the same, driving sound found on Turn on the Bright Lights, the New York City trio has created an album they refer to as “a whole different animal” with just as significant of atmospheric value.
Overall, El Pintor lacks the same long-lasting intangibles to consider it a classic. However, it is a return to form for a band that risked falling from their status as modern music pioneers to washed-up has-beens for fans to give up on. The album offers the most variety of any in Interpol’s catalog to date.
Lead single and first track “All The Rage Back Home” will perhaps be the indie rock anthem of the latter half of 2014, and serves as a homage to Interpol’s faithful cult following in their home city.
Mid-album standout, “My Blue Surpreme” finds Banks abandoning his trademark monotone delivery for a rather well-executed falsetto. His vocal delivery is more varied throughout as well, without sacrificing the style fans have grown accustomed to.
Closing track “Twice As Hard” is an epic, five-minute exercise in hypnosis, reverberating guitar juxtaposed by cymbal crashes and subtle piano key strikes. With such a lasting impression, it is hard to consider El Pintor a positive listening experience.
In an artwork accessible enough for indie rock bands, but both thoughtful and technical enough for post rock diehards, Interpol has found success. El Pintor can be considered Interpol’s second best album to date, and a positive sign for their future.