Interpol: Interpol

(Matador Records)

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2007’s Our Love to Admire was a let down but its best moments were the ones where Interpol branched out and stopped trying to imitate themselves. On their latest release, it looks like they’ve learned that lesson. Seconds into “Memory Serves” I let out a sigh of relief. It was still dark and moody and undeniably an Interpol song but it had a cocky beat that hasn’t shown up in a single one of their songs yet. It’s an excellent song as is much of this album.

The first single, “Lights,” is a tense slow-builder that has the angst and gloom of classic Cure, or even classic Interpol. Taking those classic elements and adding to them is what makes this such a rewarding album though. Their increased use of keyboards and backing vocals has paid off in spades, especially in “All of the Ways.” What is already a stunning song gets elevated to the status of essential. Interpol also expand their sound on Interpol (the album) by utilizing melodic hooks far more than in the past. Where in the past Interpol built all their songs on atmospherics, “Summer Well” and “Try It On” are driven by short, catchy piano parts. The sinewy guitar riffs are what make “Safe Without.”

What this album might be remembered for most is that it’s the last to feature bassist Carlos Dengler. This is truly a loss for the band. His bass-playing style is as idiosyncratic as his clothing style. Dengler seamlessly incorporates disco and dub into dark indie rock and songs like “Barricade” would not have been the same without him. What future Interpol albums are going to sound like is uncertain. Making this album self-titled was a wise choice though. This is your reintroduction to the band. They also made a wise choice in the cover image. It’s the band’s logo being demolished.

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