Since first coming to attention with their 2002 debut album ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’, Interpol have won a reputation as one of the more interesting imports from the New York indie scene. Their layered guitars, icily detached vocals and dark, brooding feel have led to comparisons to the likes of Joy Division and Radiohead, and they have slowly but surely racked up record sales as well as fans both here and across the pond.

That said, the feeling you get from this eponymous album, the band’s fourth and last with bassist and founding member Carlos Dengler, is that the party could well be over. The band has found success, for sure, but they question it and what sort of people it has turned them into. The first track, ‘Success’, sees frontman Paul Banks crying out over and over “I am a good man”, an effort to justify himself in the world he is now a part of, the world of fame and accomplishment.

The rest of the album feels just as aimless as the band themselves. ‘Lights’ tries to inject the album with some much needed drama and atmosphere, but ends up fading away and disappointing. ‘Always Malaise (The Man I Am)’ trudges along wearily, full of those two most unattractive of qualities, self doubt and self pity. And the album closes with ‘The Undoing’ the utterly forgettable ending to what should have been a magnificent last hurrah for Carlos D and this incarnation of Interpol.

There are some exceptions. ‘Barricades’ sees the band abandoning its newfound pretentions at grandiose atmospherics and returning to the tight guitar hooks, throbbing basslines and tense, edgy sound their fans will both recognise and appreciate. The tingling piano on ‘Try It On’, which melts seamlessly into the swelling ‘All of the Ways’, provide other highlights amongst the gloom.

However, the overall feel of the album is bleak, listless and badly directed; this, coupled with the fact that Paul Banks vocals often fall into the category of the downright boring, leads to an album that verges on the soporific. The band attempts to stretch out into sweeping soundscapes and expansive arrangements, but ends up losing the tight, distinctive sound that made them so popular with the post-punk revival crowd. Maybe, when the band has regrouped after Carlos D’s departure, they’ll make a magnificent return to the form of ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ and ‘Antics’. This album though sadly isn’t it.


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