INTERPOL Marauder gets 7.5/10

Matador/Remote Control


New York City’s Interpol, along with luminaries The Strokes, The National and Yeah Yeah Yeahs defined an era in 2000s rock ‘n’ roll that put NYC back on the map as an epicentre for style, sound and cool. But Interpol always stood apart, and behind, brooding in the darkness. Their 2002 debut Turn On The Bright Lights released through Matador Records is now rightly regarded as one of the era’s greatest and most influential records. Sixteen years on, they have released their sixth album, produced by another New York legend in Dave Fridmann, and it’s their most wild and ferocious sounding since their first, as well as their most vital in years.

They’ve been through some ups and downs in the years between. They followed up their debut quickly with the bigger, bolder classic Antics that saw them shoot to worldwide fame, and at their peak signed to Capitol and put out the more experimental, subtly brilliant Our Love To Admire. During the recording of their next, eponymous release, they were dropped by their major label and inner band turmoil led to integral member, charismatic bass player extraordinaire, Carlos D leaving the group. But the band played on. A middling fifth album El Pintor (an anagram of Interpol) saw the band finding their feet and redefining their sound and dynamic, with lead singer and guitarist Paul Banks taking over bass duties during recording.

The band secretly wrote most of Marauder a couple years back, then decided to go on tour to celebrate the 15 year anniversary of Bright Lights. Coming back from tour, finely tuned and rejuvenated, they hooked up with Fridmann (famed producer of classic albums by Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, MGMT and Mogwai) and headed to his Tarbox Studios in upstate New York to lay down the album, the first time since their third album that they’ve worked with an external producer. Taking heed of Fridmann’s sage advice and going for a raw, stripped back, live, rocking sound, they pumped out Marauder recording live to tape. At times his mix is almost too stiff, trebly and harsh, losing some of the smoothness that defines the band, but it gives it an edge lacking in their last couple albums.

While they still miss Carlos D’s distinct basslines, Banks is coming into his own as a bass player, not just playing the basic bass notes as previously, but getting more adventurous. The band sound tight, fresh and heavier than ever before, leaving things rough around the edges – several tracks feature imperfections in guitar riffs, drums, slight dud notes, intentionally left in to give that live feel.

This new Interpol is best exemplified on lead single, the raucous, rollicking The Rover, which Banks has said references his inner, self-destructive beast. The heart and soul of group Sam Fogarino is pounding away on the drums harder than ever, driving the song home.

Album opener If You Really Love Nothing is another great stomping number, and the video features a blonde, cropped Kristen Stewart running amok through a nightclub.

A real standout is Flight of Fancy featuring classic soaring Interpol guitar work from main songwriter and lead guitarist Daniel Kessler whose distinct tone is perfectly complemented by Banks’ vocals as he snarls some trademark cryptic lyrics, “This is make believe, like slight of hand, and a custom vagrancy of mind; Well I demand it, it’s just my agency, my flight of fancy.”

Stay In Touch sounds very much like Bright Lights era Interpol with it’s contrast of soft caress and abrasive distortion. It’s one of the times on this album where Banks’ lyrics are more straight up and directly personal than ever before, seemingly referencing his recent breakup from girlfriend of 10 years, supermodel Helena Christensen, and also features the album’s titular character: “That’s how you make a ghost/ Watch how you break things you learn the most/ Something about the one that negates hope/ Marauder chained of no real code/ Marauder breaks bonds/ Marauder stays long/ Plays with the real face on.”

NYSMAW is another melodic number with those gorgeous duelling guitars, subtlety referencing their classic acronymic track NYC (New York Cares), though this time it stands for Now You’ve Seen Me At Work. 

Like most of Interpol’s albums, Marauder takes some time to sink your teeth into and appreciate, and rewards multiple listens as layers reveal themselves. There is that familiar coarseness and tension, but also new resolve and excitement. It’s a new phase for Banks and definitely feels like another phase for the band. Welcome Interpol Mk III.


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