Interpol

Marauder

Matador

Aug 24, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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It's been 16 years since Interpol turned the NYC music scene on its ear with their brooding and brilliant debut album Turn on the Bright Lights. Setting the bar very high very early can spell doom to some, but Interpol was able to parlay their early success into a meaningful career, mostly due to a unique ability to push their guitar-based rock in different directions while carving out an interesting and distinctive sound.

For their sixth album, Marauder, the band enlisted the help of famed producer Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips, MGMT), who suggested to limit the studio treatments and aimed for a more angular and brawny sound. This approach appears to have worked but it doesn't seem to fit comfortably within Interpol's wheelhouse.

A sometimes stormy mix, Marauder has few hummable melodies and no real pop hooks. But substantive music exists for those willing to put in the time. Borne out of challenging expressions and executed with skill, rhythmic bass lines and tight electric guitar licks can be found lurking under the rough exterior. But too often the gritty outer layers are never shed and the listener is left trying to make sense of the jagged rhythms and irregular tempos.

Smoothing over the frequently shifting riffs, the vocals act as a kind of connective tissue to hold it all together. Paul Banks' distinctive baritone is as sharp as ever but sometimes fails to carry any melody and isn't always enough to right the ship. 

Interpol's strength has always been the ability to carve out some sweet melodies and smart pop hooks amongst the serrated rock or ride out a wave of brooding synths with crisp and shifty guitar lines. But except for opener "If You Really Love Nothing" and single "The Rover," these strong suits are few and far between. A new twist though is the addition of a couple of ambient tracks. "Interlude 1" and "Interlude 2" are short, atmospheric instrumental pieces that act as a kind of musical palette cleanser between some of the rockier moments.

It's doubtful Marauder will win Interpol any new fans and may even leave existing fans somewhat disappointed, but if you work at it, you can find some redeeming qualities since a sub-par Interpol is still better than most. (www.interpolnyc.com)

Author rating: 5.5/10

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