New York indie rockers Interpol have often been likened to post-punk revival bands like Joy Division and The Chameleons; but four albums into their nearly decade-long career, it’s difficult to think of a more suitable point of reference than their younger selves to understand just where their new self-titled album leaves them.
As it turns out, where exactly this leaves them isn’t very clear. Their previous album, “Our Love to Admire,” was released in 2007 with mixed reviews and a generally lukewarm reception. While punchier with songs like “The Heinrich Maneuver” and the epic opener “Pioneer to the Falls,” the album maintained a mostly unvaried sound and tension throughout, something that must have been surprising — if not disappointing — for fans of their earlier, more diverse releases.
Despite that, Interpol suffers a different, but not a more fortunate, fate. On first listen, the album’s most memorable tracks seem to be “Summer Well” and the album’s singles “Lights” and “Barricade.” But after that, there is a plateau in the prominence of the band’s newly-explored beats and bass lines that makes the aforementioned tracks stand out as dynamic, leaving an unexciting indistinguishable noise.
That four-song staleness is relieved with the concluding “The Undoing,” an almost nightmarish and stormy track that shuffles in bits of earlier songs in the album before fading out hazily. A decent ending song nonetheless, but nothing comparing to what songs like “The New” and “Leif Erikson” did on their debut album, “Turn on the Bright Lights.”
The never-quite-screaming voice of singer Paul Banks and the tunnel-like quality of the band still remain, but with several recent record label changes, the absence of bassist Carlos Dengler, and frontman Banks putting quite a lot of energy into his solo project, the band seems to have lost the charm that won over all but its most diehard fans. If they want to rekindle that vitality and emotion, it seems the band should sit down and consider what they really want Interpol to be.