Interpol proves that peaking too early doesn’t mean you can’t bring it back.
Much in the same vein as their contemporaries, The Strokes, Interpol made their name with a stonking debut album Turn On The Bright Lights
. Much to their benefit, their debut shot them straight into the epicentre of the starriest of stardoms, but it would be fair to say that it has the tendency to barrage through records released since.
So, what does this mean for a sixth studio album? What is Marauder
To put it in terms that I understand, Marauder
is the kid at primary school who peaked at 14 because he never had to try that hard but got to 23 and realised he still worked 37.5 hours a week in Tesco and was in a relationship with a girl who he didn’t love. Marauder
is that same kid that, one day, recognising what a state he’s in, throwing his meal deal in the bin and enrolling on that Business course he always wanted to do. The album proves that it’s never too late to learn from your past.
Album opener ‘If You Really Love Nothing’ is swathed in a cloak of glam-rock glory. Paul Bank’s
airy vocals have a certain taste of “je ne sais quoi” about them, lathered generously atop driving drums. Far less concerned with filling a sold-out stadium leg of a tour, Banks’ tone has passed its booming, anthemic prime but has softened to suit an album which unfolds piece by piece, never quite turning the way you’d expect. ‘The Rover’ straddles the gap between seduction and fear, with guitarist Daniel Kessler’s reverb-heavy hooks painting the picture of a charismatic cult leader wandering through unknown lands. It’s not by any means polished in its production, with quirks that, at a first listen, make it sound like the first take of many.
There was absolutely the danger for Interpol to fall back into their early noughties ecosystem; tinged by the oblique, the moody and the sombre, but to our saving grace comes ‘Stay in Touch’. Sensationally sexy in its reflection on an illicit affair, Bank’s lyricism punctuates a drum rhythm which ebbs, flows and engulfs any sense of immediate urgency: “I came to see you in starlight and let electric fields yield to skin / Leave my head to spin, rush forward to leave my bed in sin.” What also strikes me is the way Banks is opening himself to lyrics which are more personable; far less are we faced with pretentious, inaccessible symbolism that leaves us scratching our heads. ‘Mountain Child’ takes a step further into the sunlight with a buoyant melody that forces Banks’ cheery, crooning harmonies to take the helm.
‘Surveillance’ is a superior cut from Marauder
. Sprawling guitars and ever-so-subtle cymbals clash in a conflict of darkness and light, obscurity and lucidity. Bank’s vocals illustrate a story of the manipulation of human perception, dipping delicately in and out of moments of profound clarity: “Be famous but still technically fine / Falling the rain man / Great hesitations of the mind will stay / This shit is made up”. Kessler’s opening guitar riff for ‘Number 10’ is iconic; mischievous yet mature in its production, before making way for Banks’ feral verse. Again, ‘Number 10’ shows real growth but leaves wiggle room for juttering stops and DIY, garage rock oddities.
’s closer ‘It Probably Matters’ rounds off an album filled with unforeseen twists and turns that reflect life’s never-ending volatility. Nuanced slacker-rock overtones combat Interpol’s thematic focus on reckless punk-rock compulsions, but still allows for the wiry electronic melody to climax in a blaze of steel strings. A battle between impulsivity and measured caution makes for an album that’s reflective of the human experience; rather than dwelling on what could’ve been, Interpol recognises the simple joy in creating something they like. Marauder
is a signifier of growth and maturity in understanding life’s ebbing and flowing energy.
Listen to Interpol 'Marauder' in full below