Thursday, 28 August 2014

Flynndie Reviews #49: Interpol - 'El Pintor'

Written 28th August 2014:

Interpol – El Pintor

The Band: Paul Banks (lead vocals/guitar), Dan Kessler (lead guitar/vocals), Sam Fogarino (drums)

Well early September sees the long-awaited return of New York City descendants and sharp suit-wearing Interpol with their fifth studio album ‘El Pintor’ a suspicious-looking album title which translates from Spanish as ‘The Painter’.  The album is released on the 8th September but the band are currently streaming the album early via the NPR Music website below, so go check it out:

The band have built a core, dedicated following with their edgy, atmospheric and distinctive post-punk sound over the past ten years building up from their incredible debut album ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ (see Flynndie Reviews #15 for more on that, the only record that has previously been given a perfect 10 on this blog) to their latest release, 2010’s eponymously titled ‘Interpol’.  Sandwiched in-between was their very solid second album ‘Antics’ released in 2004 with well-known hits ‘Evil’ and ‘Slow Hands’, followed by 2007’s ‘Our Love To Admire’.  So with four fine records under the belts from the band from The Big Apple, the big question is then how does ‘El Pintor’ shape up?

El Pintor

1. All the Rage Back Home
2. My Desire
3. Anywhere
4. Same Town, New Story
5. My Blue Supreme
6. Everything Is Wrong
7. Breaker 1
8. Ancient Ways
9. Tidal Wave
10. Twice as Hard

Recently previewed on live tours earlier this year ‘All the Rage Back Home’ gets ‘El Pintor’ up and running with tingling slide-guitar notes from Dan Kessler teasing away while backed with Paul’s softly-sung vocals, before the track kicks into full-flow after about 45-seconds “She said you don’t need time/Be tame you won’t need your mate inside/My faith won’t lie” and the track continues to build before reaching it’s full-stride before the track-title’s chorus “I keep falling maybe half the time/And it’s all the rage back home/All the rage back home”.  It’s a track that coasts and flows effortlessly and gets the record off to a fine start.  Launching with trademark, angular guitars ‘My Desire’ is more of a steady burner of a track, featuring duelling, shimmering guitars between Paul and Dan accompanied by a steady drum-rhythm from Sam with angst lyrics to be found here “In my desire, I’m a frustrated man/Some of us ask for peace, do what we can”.  This is a more familiar haunting, atmospheric type of track that the band are also well known for.

‘Anywhere’ is a good example of Interpol on fine-form.  With an incredibly catching guitar-riff from Dan pumping at its heart, further driven by thumping bass and percussion through its veins before reaching a large crescendo of a chorus “The ocean…I could go anywhere/I could go anywhere/So free/It’s my nature to want/I could go anywhere.”  ‘Same Town, New Story’ eases the pace of the album again, with another trademark Kessler melancholic guitar-riff laying the foundations for this eerie, haunting track, a style of sound not too dissimilar to that found on some of the tracks on their eponymous fourth album ‘Interpol’.  With opening and subtle backing synths ‘My Blue Supreme’ is another soft, gentle and thoughtful Interpol track which continues its progression with synths being entwined by nice gentle guitar riffs, while midway through the record ‘Everything Is Wrong’ is an initially bass-driven track, perhaps harking back more to Interpol’s earlier sound from their first two albums, slowly building with soft vocals from Paul and his American accent coming through particularly stronger here on a catchy chorus featuring the track-title repeated.

  • Interpol headlined the NME Tour back in March
‘Breaker 1’ features a very jaggered-sounding guitar at it’s opening, with an echo effect used on Paul’s voice initially “Come back/Come back without warning/Come back/Come back Breaker 1” with this effect interspersed between the main verses of the track which see the band in a comfortable groove here and still on good form.  Previously given early previews online (see the link at the bottom of this review) ‘Ancient Ways’ is a no-nonsense rocky track, high-tempo with snarling guitars and fierce percussion and a strong chorus “The city feeds us all like babes/And we’ve taken a bow” before Paul emphasizes “At the station!”  It’s a very instant track, with a strong dance-vibe behind it, for the album.  ‘Tidal Wave’ is initially driven by synths and percussion before backing guitars and sees Paul using a high-pitched voice on vocals here, it’s another deeply flowing and floating track before we have album closer ‘Twice As Hard’ with Dan creating a real shimmering sound as the main melody of the track here and near spoken vocals from Paul, and this track has a somewhat familiar feel as an album closer to the track ‘Leif Erikson’ also the closing track from the band’s debut album ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ while Paul sings repeatedly over the chorus “Your twice as hard/Twice as hard”.

So overall ‘El Pintor’ in my opinion sees Interpol maintain their fine, edgy, raw and moody post-punk sound with another album packed with songs that each have charm, character and a story behind them.  There are certainly some Interpol tracks here that really show what the band are all about with their core-sound, in particular early tracks ‘All the Rage Back Home’ and ‘Anywhere’ are two examples of instantly catchy Interpol tracks.  Throw in some more subtle, slow-burning yet real thought-provoking tracks such as ‘My Desire’, ‘Breaker 1’ and ‘Tidal Wave’ and a couple of highlights midway through the album with 'Same Town, New Story' and the epic 'My Blue Supreme' and this record really covers the full experience of what you would hope to expect from an Interpol record and one that perhaps finds the band rediscovering their sound and roots from earlier Interpol albums yet not neglecting the charm of their two more recent albums.  I was lucky enough to catch the band on the NME Tour earlier this year and felt at the time that the new material showed real potential and I feel that ‘El Pintor’ doesn’t disappoint and delivers another solid album from the New York three-piece so I’m going to give this record a strong 8 out of 10 and would also suggest if you’re not too familiar with Interpol’s sound, this album would actually be a good starting point to get into them with.

Oh and hopefully by now you will have noticed that the suspicious-looking album title ‘El Pintor’ also doubles as an anagram of a certain New York band…

All the Rage Back Home

Track 1 – ‘All the Rage Back Home’

Track 9 - ‘Ancient Ways’

Band website: