Our Love To Admire
Few bands have sustained their influence or impact on the rest of the international music scene in quite the same way as Interpol. When the New Yorkers debut 'Turn On The Bright Lights' arrived some five years ago amidst a slurry of Coldplay, Limp Bizkit and garage rock, it was a breath of fresh air amongst a pile of decrepit turds floating for supremacy in a sea of musical distaste.
Sure, their own influences may have been instantly recognisable but if you're going to follow an already trodden path, then none come more consecrated than that created by the likes of Joy Division, REM and The Smiths.
Since then of course, Interpol's position as figureheads of a new movement of despairing romanticism has become signed and sealed, none more so than by the slightly more upbeat follow-up to TOTBL 'Antics'. Hell, they even managed to unleash a couple of hit singles from within its confines, whilst moving up from basement cult hero to genuine icon status.
'Our Love To Admire' then is their long-awaited third album, and from the cover's depiction of a deer about to be ripped to shreds by a pack of tigers to the dark lyrical and atmospheric musical content, it seems misery and trouble aren't far away.
Not that anyone would suggest Interpol are a bunch of whingers, of course. On the contrary - in fact, they're at their most resoundingly poignant when they're stressed. If anything this record is a testimony to such times, whether that be an increasingly tiresome relationship ('No I In Threesome') or too much substance abuse ('Rest My Chemistry').
Producer Rich Costey seems to have placed more emphasis on the music here, as Paul Banks vocals appear to be lower in the mix than on their previous two records. Although this could have potentially created a problem, it has the opposite effect, instead creating an array of eeriness around the theme of the record. This works particularly well on 'Mammoth', one of 'Our Love To Admire''s many exquisite moments. "Spare me the suspense." intones Banks as Daniel Kessler's guitar rides along incessantly, spectres of The Edge in tow, for a song that could, given time, rival 'Evil' as the album's signature tune and live centrepiece.
However, 'Mammoth' is by no means the only highlight here. Opener 'Pioneer To The Falls' rings in like a maudlin New Year clarion cry, chiming guitars interacting with a haunting piano melody as Paul Banks repeats its hookline "Show me the dirt pile/and I will pray/that the soul can take/three stowaways" with clockwork efficiency. It could be a nursery rhyme if it wasn't so disparagingly breathtaking. Likewise, 'Rest My Chemistry' is a brooding number that suggests its writer (Banks) has had enough of the white stuff ("My friends they come/the lines they go by") and all the hangers-on that go with it. Musically, it isn't a million miles away from 'Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down', and more significantly, it once again captures Interpol at their insatiably poignant best. Closing track 'The Light House' meanwhile is a major departure from anything they've done in the past. Mixing reverb led guitars with an almost flamenco flavour, once again Banks' vocal is at times incoherent in the mix, but as a combination it sounds almost like the perfect follow-up to My Bloody Valentine's 'Glider', something even they haven't managed to achieve after all these years.
By and large, 'Our Love To Admire' doesn't contain any real duff tracks of note, and while there may be some who'll criticise it for being so obviously an Interpol record - well what did you expect, a German techno record mixed by Paul Epworth? - make no mistake about it, this will be high up in many people's Top Ten lists come the end of the year.