In 2014, the remaining band members of Interpol displayed their resiliency with the release of the luminous “El Pintor”. Many in the music world had believed that with the departure of founding member Carlos Dengler, new material from Interpol was unlikely. “El Pintor” would prove that belief wrong. The album would go on to attain both critical and commercial success and hail the beginning of a new era for the band. Their latest release “Marauder” displays that Interpol has become even leaner and more adept at projecting their version of the world. The new release, their 6th studio album, arrives in the usual musical outlets on August 24th. “Marauder” displays why Interpol has cast a long shadow on the NYC music scene and the music world in general. Theirs is a special brand of brooding Indie rock that is able to utilize new sonic approaches that keep things fresh.
Since the release of El Pintor frontman/bassist Paul Banks, guitarist Daniel Kessler and drummer Sam Fogarino have been active on a number of side projects. In 2017, the band celebrated the 15 year anniversary of their much-beloved debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights with a world tour. For the band, the live tour sparked a lot of excitement ahead of heading back to the recording studio. Interpol would recruit renowned producer David Fridmann who has to his credit produced Mogwai, The Flaming Lips, Sleater Kinney and Spoon among so many other indie band giants. The band recorded in Fridmann’s Tarbox Road Studio in upstate Cassadaga, NY from December of 2017 to February of 2018. Fridmann suggested the band shake things up by recording everything to tape instead of rehearsing songs prior to recording. This approach captured moments that were not intentional but made the songs special and personal with no overdubs. This gave each song an off the cuff feel. Guitarist Daniel Kessler described the process as having removed the safety net and forcing the band to fine down to the essence of their music.
Also of note on this album is how Paul Banks has settled into his bass player role which was thrust upon him with the departure of Dengler. On El Pintor Banks was more hesitant on bass, on Marauder he is in total command. The lyrics on Marauder explore many of Interpol’s usual themes; black mirror dystopia, hedonism, cultural angst and dark internal moments. This time around the introspection gets more personal and closer to home. Banks in many of the lyrics is reflecting on his own life and has stated the marauder of the title is a character that is present throughout the album. He goes further to clarify the idea, “The Marauder is a facet of myself- that guy that fucks up friendships and does crazy shit. He has taught me a lot, but it’s a representation of a persona best left in a song. This album is like giving him a name and putting him to bed.” That element of self-revelation maintains the listener’s attention throughout the album. The listener finds themselves accompanying the band down a musical rabbit hole, following where they lead in order to gain an understanding of Interpol’s journey thus far.
Marauder begins with If You Really Love Nothing and is an apt opening track that is easily identifiable as Interpol. Banks’ voice is so distinctive it takes only moments for fans to be put at their easy as the chiming guitars and tribal drums welcome them back. There is no fat on the track as it is terse and gets its point across that love can be messy and a risk but is better than the cold flatness of loving nothing. This is followed by the addictive The Rover which is a perfect radio friendly assault. The song is loaded with addictive energy and conveys the very essence of Interpol’s sound that has never been lost no matter the passing of time and traumas the band has experience. The Rover is a belter of a track. Complications begins with guitarist Daniel Kessler’s trademark crystalline guitar work. The song becomes something other with that underlying Reggae beat. The lyrics discuss being caught up in the minutiae of life and allowing it to generate bad dreams loaded with anxiety. In the end, there is the realization that we make so many problems for ourselves attempting to fight life’s journey.
Interpol really stuns with Flight of Fancy where the theme examines our inner running dialogue. It points out that we too often rationalize away our bad actions; we all think we are the good guy in every situation, and that all too often is not the case. Banks’ vocals simply jump out on this song and there is a do not miss bridge that is fantastic. This song gets more alluring with each pass. Stay In Touch continues the impressive run of this release. Here the marauder character of the album title is fully acknowledged along with regret, loss and yearning. The song effortlessly balances the lush, fantastic guitar work with some interesting experimentation. Banks’ vocal is effectively used as the anchor while the accompaniment seems to spiral at times within a hairbreadth of failure but instead delivers a brilliant explosion of musical goodness. There are two interludes on the album both of which produce a surreal otherworldly sonic that works as a window into the murky underbelly of human nature. Mountain Child looks at innocence and the loss of that innocence when encountering modern society. The spiky guitar and inspired rhythm section thump makes for another winning selection, I predict this song will be absolutely mammoth live.
The next two songs serve up exactly what Interpol does best, sinister menace. NYSMAW or Now You See Me At Work is paranoid claustrophobia captured in a song. The cut crystal sonics deliver a discourse on humanity versus the cold and clinical. I love this track and following it up with Surveillance is genius. Surveillance continues the threatened brooding begun in NYSMAW with a burst of trippy sonics that is off kilter but oh so satisfying. Taken to task is our now 24/7 culture where nothing is private. These are two tracks that should not be missed. They are a perfectly matched pairing. Number 10 puts the spotlight on Kessler’s inspired guitar sound. This song about a secret workplace romance is almost overshadowed by the hyper turbo sonic that will demand you dance about. Number 10 is followed by the funk fest drum attack that is Party’s Over. Sam Fogarino’s off-kilter drum beat spirals along the edge threatening to fall off while Bank’s does a falsetto turn and provides an extraordinary bass thump. The topic of hedonistic fun that is overtaken by the hangover after the party is again cautionary. All these facets are woven together to produce an alluring selection.
The extraordinary consistency of Marauder follows through to the end with It Probably Matters which is as strong a song as any on the album. The track is filled with regret for an inability to do what is necessary to keep a relationship together. There is a laundry list of all the sins committed summed up with the lyric, “didn’t have the grace or the brains”. Counter-intuitively the song is not a ballad but fleshed out with a punchy accompaniment that makes the self-revelatory lyric even more potent. The song is a great closer to an engaging release.
Interpol with Marauder again impresses with their ability to continually refine their sound. It is encouraging to see the band produce another stellar album considering the possibility that the band could have imploded after Dengler’s departed. Additionally, it is reassuring that the members of Interpol continue to promote their distinctive sound growing in maturity and sonic mastery as they progress on their musical journey. There is much for Interpol fans to love on this new release as there is not a weak song in the collection. Marauder is evidence that Interpol is still in the current music game not resting on their laurels as they continue to challenge themselves and their fans to take on new approaches. Each new Interpol release displays a band not afraid to reexamine their music and dig within to reveal the sonic goodness they are masterfully able to create.