Friday, July 13, 2007

Living in An Ice Age: Interpol "Our Love to Admire"

The trembling, bruising atmosphere that dominated Interpol's first two LPs appears to have merely been a catalyst for a much more self-involved kind of theatricality. Those crisply dueling guitar sections, the sputter time drum workshops, Paul Banks' stream of consciousness style of inane banter; there has always been a romance between the unhinged and the beautiful prevalent in all of Interpol's work. The trick they have always seemed to pull off so well is making it all appear coherent--even lovely on a good day.

Turn on the Bright Lights and Antics, the group’s respective first and second outings, showcased an uncanny understanding of atmosphere and oddities as they relate to pop-minded rock. Their post-punk proclivities lent weight to Interpol's massive yet sparse style of understated theatrics. On their third offering, Our Love to Admire, Interpol adheres to the same principles for the most part, but seem to lose sight on what made them so great from the start. As proven on those first two LPs, it wasn’t so much their attention to detail, but the seemless way they were able to drown themselves within the details.

Like oily mascara running down a tragically beautiful face, the mildly strung out, disaffected malaise present on Our Love to Admire is nothing short of a total downer. While this is nothing new for Interpol, the compelling factor here is that the nature of the fall seems to be in direct conflict with itself throughout the inconsistencies presented on the album. A somewhat confusing experience follows.

Our Love to Admire goes down tired trails and uses old tricks to invoke that preciously dark, indie persona. However, it all seems to serve more as comfort food than actual inspiration. The album’s opener "Pioneer To the Falls," for instance, is probably one the best tracks the group has ever produced. Lilting, sinister, and calculated, it creeps along the skyline building toward a crimson storm that never seems to fully dissipate. This sets the tone for the album in marvelous fashion, but ultimately serves to shoot itself in the proverbial foot. Interpol never seem to fully capture the aura put forth in that one perfect song, tinting most other tracks with a longing sense of “lack there of.”

Lead single, “The Heinrich Maneuver” utilizes those perfectly dumb lyrical passages Banks is always so good at concocting (“you wear those shoes like a dove”) to its advantage, but finds itself decidedly out of place in the midst of otherwise unimpressive melodrama. Our Love To Admire seems to habitually reach heights of creative splendor, only to drag itself down with downtrodden excess and overblown dramatics.

Interpol has always been a fairly “serious” band. This has been part of their charm in the past. Here, however, with that major label budget, they seem to have lost themselves in the shuffle of epic posturing and large, sweeping landscapes of uninspired sounds. Gone are those unsubtle subtleties that made the atmospheric masterpiece that was Turn On The Bright Lights one of the best albums of the decade.

While there are some admittedly effective moments peppered throughout the album, Our Love To Admire is big and bold and… mostly boring. I’ll concede that Interpol will probably never make a wholly useless or bad album, but this is the sign of a truly talented and inspired group that seems to be on autopilot with a blank check in their pockets.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

It's so fun to see a music review here! Great job, Daniel.

I heard a listening show on the radio the other day for this album. "Pioneer To the Falls" was awesome, and I like "The Heinrich Maneuver," but I really didn't immediately conect with any of the other songs they played.

Interpol is such a weird band for me. I have both of their other albums, and love when the songs come up on shuffle, but I never seek them out. I will probably just download those two songs (legally! I'm old) and skip the rest for now.