Sunday, July 15, 2007



In the early years of this decade, when bands such as the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were revitalizing New York's music scene, Interpol was often mentioned as an afterthought. That's because it was easy to confuse the musicians as Brits: Their songs borrowed heavily from Joy Division and their band's name refers to the largely Eurocentric International Criminal Police Organization. Plus, not many downtown bands insisted on wearing tailored suits.

Five years after releasing their debut on the indie label Matador, Interpol has graduated to a major label. But their latest, "Our Love to Admire," doesn't show any huge stylistic leaps. Many of these post-punk dirges ("Pioneer to the Falls" and "Rest My Chemistry") could easily be confused with their early stuff. And at 50 minutes, the record is a depressing slog.

Interpol's brooding frontman, Paul Banks, remains the biggest offender. He continues to sing in an annoyingly adenoidal tenor; at times, it's hard to determine if he's singing or talking. Lyrically, Banks relies heavily on affected poetry ("Show me the dirt pile / And I will pray that the soul can take three stowaways") and crass aphorisms ("No I in Threesome"). Even when he seems at peace -- "How are things on the West Coast? / Hear you're moving real fine tonight," he sings on the exceptional single "The Heinrich Maneuver" -- those moments are fleeting.

What's worse is that guitarists Banks and Daniel Kessler, bassist Carlos Dengler and drummer Sam Fogarino stick to one irritating playing style: spidery, single-note guitar melodies; murky, unimaginative bass lines; and clumsy mid-tempo beats. So does Interpol have anything going for it? A cool band name and a cool look, that's for sure. But not much else.

Interpol is scheduled to perform at the Virgin Festival at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore on Aug. 5.

-- Kevin O'Donnell

DOWNLOAD THESE: "The Heinrich Maneuver," "Mammoth"



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