Interpol: El Pintor

interpol elpintorInterpol
El Pintor
(Matador Records)

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“Fuck the ancient ways,” Paul Banks croons on Interpol’s fifth LP, setting forth an inadvertant mission statement. The title El Pintor is an anagram of “Interpol,” and this is a mix up of the band we once knew. With bassist Carlos Dengler gone, Banks has assumed most bass duties on the album. The band’s defining feature remains Daniel Kessler’s richly textured guitar, but as Banks has embraced his full vocal range and drummer Sam Fogarino is given time to shine, Interpol has made post-punk guitar rock sound like it never left.
Lead single “All the Rage Back Home” is a brilliant choice for an opening track. With one of the fastest tempos on the record and a catchy “hey” element to the chorus, the song is immediate and arresting. Following this is “My Desire,” which gives Kessler’s serpentine guitar a chance to shine like a second (or, arguably, main) vocal line. “Breaker 1” feels like it could have been ripped from the band’s back catalog with its subdued vocals and elegant accompaniment. Perhaps most satisfying to longstanding fans is “Twice as Hard,” a slow burn closer with tantalizingly strange writing at parts of the verses. That inaccessibility in Banks’ writing is part of what makes Interpol seem so untouchable, even after all this time.
El Pintor may not be a reinvention, but it is certainly a distillation. Nothing on this album feels extraneous. Banks, Kessler, and Fogarino have honed their strengths and play them up here without getting cocky. Interpol may not rise to the success of Turn on the Bright Lights or Antics again, but this is easily their third best album and a cut above many released this year.
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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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