Interpol Our Love To Admire

[Capitol; 2007]

Styles: gloom and groomed, Modest Mouse-level major label pap, herpetic bass lines
Others: Kitchens of Distinction, The Chameleons

No thanks. Nearly three years have elapsed since any new material has surfaced, and the best the gloomsters can offer up is a prolonged re-hash of songs that barely worked the first time around. Unlike sophomore effort Antics, Our Love To Admire isn’t even a contractual obligation to push off without care. But boy does it sound like one; a band phoning it in, out of steam, and running on a few lingering fumes and smoldering coals. If that were the case it would be understandable, yet not forgivable. However, this poor piece of plastic doesn't fit that description, and realizing that Interpol are aiming to impress with their major label debut is cause to audibly groan.

The NYC fashion-victim four-piece managed to turn heads with their 2002 introduction, Turn On The Bright Lights. The band fuddled around instruments they barely knew how to play, slurring out memorably crestfallen songs left and right like it wasn’t a problem in the least. Inane, unintentionally goofy lyrics, soul-draining walls of guitar, and propelling basslines served as the backbone to the album’s sound. It was a return to an aesthetic a decade removed from the forefront. Interpol received a heap of praise for the album, and at the time, it was deserved. Antics followed in 2004, with the band proving the hypothesis that even one-trick ponies can forget their defining ploy.

Our Love To Admire picks up right where Antics left off. The band is more skilled, the compositions are tighter, vocalist Paul Banks is more comfortable letting it all hang out, and nearly all the charm of those early years has been sucked away into a deep, black chasm, never to return. How they so quickly forgot what made them an endearing and intriguing band is a bona fide head-scratcher. Critics were initially apologetic over Interpol’s new sound, as there was nothing visibly wrong with it. It was simply diluted; less than what had come before but bearing the same symbols. In relation to sound and execution, this third album fits somewhere uncomfortably between the first and second. The record mixes the efficiency the band has acquired with the droning and doleful spirit of their more creative days. And it couldn’t have possibly gone more awry: Our Love To Admire sounds like a wet blanket.

The songs are abysmal and unoriginal, nearly across the board. “The Heinrich Maneuver” finds a way to be a lousier first single than “Slow Hands.” Let’s barely touch upon the wreck that is “No I In Threesome”; the title alone speaks volumes about the band’s emotional maturity and knack for choosing great song topics (hearing Banks whine the titular line is the album’s worst moment, bar none). “All Fired Up” sounds like it should have been on that other over-produced indie-gone-major record this year, We Were Dead Before The General Population Even Cared. You can tell they’re trying to do something in “Mammoth”; it just doesn’t quite pan out. But there’s more: Bassist Carlos D’s sweet licks used to be the most fundamental aspect of Interpol’s sound. But here, they’re stale and uninspired. The lyrical prowess of Banks has gone from silly, to laughable, to finally cringe-worthy. That is the wrong sort of progression. The band is devolving, or unraveling at the seam.

Concessions must be made, as the band has managed to squeeze a handful of decent tunes into the mix. “Pioneer To The Falls” is pretty good. It’s slow-grinding, well written and performed, spooky, and the closest they’ve gotten back to their roots. The record’s best is easily “Who Do You Think?” a stiflingly-paced, unconventional guitar rock anthem firing off with pistons pumping. Finally, the child-regretting sentiment of the fire-and-brimstone ballad “Scale” is downright chilling at times. So there. That’s three out of eleven. Not bad, guys.

Most Read