Album Review: Interpol – El Pintor

On their first full album without former bassist Carlos Dengler, can Interpol still deliver?

Interpol El Pintor cover art

Rising through the music world during the revolution of indie rock that took place in the 2000’s, Interpol were the godfathers of gloom of 2000’s indie rock. While fellow New Yorkers, The Strokes were away sound tracking the party, with huge commercial success and indie anthems aplenty, Interpol would soundtrack the long taxi drive home, as florescent lights flickered and sped past – in the background, mysterious yet at moments burning just as brightly.

There first album, Turn On The Bright Lights was released 12 years ago now, and set a blueprint that Interpol have continued throughout their career. Bold bass riffs, spliced with spiky guitar work set to moody synths and Paul Banks’ fog horn vocals. It owed much to Joy Division’s post punk prowess but it was revived, reinvigorated and modernised; set to the fast pace and exotic nightlife of New York as opposed to the northern grimness of Manchester.

El Pintor is Interpol’s first full album without their talismanic bassist Carlos Dengler who left part way through the recording of their 2010 self-titled effort. Springing, nostalgic guitar arpeggios introduce the band on All the Rage Back Home before the band enters into their classic exalted charge. Crushing, spiralling crescendos are abundant through the album, however Interpol have become true masters of their own sound. Instead of rushing the moment, they know exactly when to take their foot of the pedal and when to accelerate with all their visceral power.

Same Town, New Story shows a different side to the Interpol template as well as a much needed change of pace, as funky synths and cymbals combine along with Daniel Kessler’s razor sharp guitar playing. Kessler comes out of the album the true star of the show; his playing is exceptionally clear and precise especially on the unnerving gothic masterpiece that is My desire. Brandon Curtis of Interpol’s New York dark post-punk contemporaries Secret Machines, features on keyboards throughout most of the album and provides invaluable to the developing sound as he washes the album with absorbing, atmospheric synths.
El Pintor is a confident, mature and sophisticated album that archives a band at the peak of their creative and musical powers. Very few bands make dark, moody post punk as well as Interpol and after 4 years since their last album it was about time Interpol made their way back onto the throne.

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