Last year, New York City indie rock band Interpol finally released a follow-up to their self-titled album. El Pintor was their 5th and it was well received overall.
The first song on the album, “All The Rage Back Home”, was the first single to be released from El Pintor and it recently made our 20 Cool Songs From 2014 list. Singer Paul Banks‘ haunting voice is back in a familiar but catchy and moody track that’s most definitely a worthy opener.
“My Desire”, the second track (and single), boasts an inventive pinched guitar hook. It’s certainly atmospheric and doesn’t sound like a lot of Interpol songs which is good since it shows some form of versatility. That said, it never truly takes off. As for “Anywhere”, it’s got a solid start but, on the whole, it mostly comes off as a bit too busy and messy. It’s like if R.E.M. sang in a busy restaurant but no-one stopped talking or eating, there’s a droning feel to this one.
“Same Town, New Story” is a softer track with a promising core hook which, like “My Desire” gives the song its own personality. It is, however, a little repetitive and the song doesn’t seem to develop much. A shot of adrenaline could do this album some good right about now.
“My Blue Supreme” works much better in that its main melody is catchier and almost has a John Frusciante-esque quality to it. It’s, again, a slower, softer track which needed a burst of energy in there somewhere but it’s really not bad.
The problem with the next track and third single, “Everything Is Wrong”, is it starts with a simple, pretty cool guitar riff but that gets lost in a sea of effects-packed instruments and soundscapes. If only this one hadn’t been so overproduced it could have stood out a little more because, as it stands, it’s another kinda forgettable, too busy track.
“Breaker 1” has a decent hook which comes up now and then but, otherwise, there’s not much to hold onto here. Interpol are awesome at creating atmospheric tunes and this is one of them, but the songs really need to sound radically different to each other in order to make the album worth it. Otherwise it’s better to just buy the first single and walk away then go back and listen to Antics, the band’s terrific 2004 album.
Same goes for the 8th track, “Ancient Ways”, another moody tune with potential which sadly never fully takes off. That said, this is one of the best songs on the album, probably because it’s got a Muse-style vibe here and there but probably also because you can actually hear the guitar riffs for once!
A solid drum beat introduces “Tidal Wave”, a decent track in which Paul Banks tries something a little different by going into Bono territory vocally at times. There’s a repetitiveness to the track and pacing issues but those are nitpicks, it’s not bad at all. Finally, we have the ironically titled “Twice As Hard” which isn’t twice as hard but twice as slow as the other tracks on the album. It’s a fitting last song, which isn’t a good thing.
While it may sound like I hate El Pintor, I really don’t. There are some decent songs in there and it still sounds very much like Interpol so if you like the band, chances are you’ll like parts of this album. It’s just a frustrating listen with every song showing lots of potential but never going the extra 100m to stand out at all. A lot of the times, cool riffs and good ideas are drowned in a sea of effects, plus Banks never really challenges himself here.
Not terrible, then, but Interpol have done better and will do better, I’m sure.
That’s only 2 Happy Cobains out of 5 for this one, I’m afraid.