Interpol’s ‘El Pintor’ Brings It All Back Around

El Pintor (2014) Matador Records

El Pintor (2014) Matador Records

 

The New York-based Interpol have been releasing music in the post-punk genre for over a decade. While many similar bands have faded the nothingness described in their lyrics, Interpol is one of the few to hold on for dear life. Along with other bands from the same scene, like The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol have stayed relevant in a world that has since moved on. Interpol release their fifth album El Pintor on September 8th.

To answer your question: Yes, El Pintor is an anagram for Interpol. It’s almost as if they are trying to say that this is their self-titled album, rather than 2010’s Interpol. That release was met somewhat positively, but it did nothing to increase their reputation or grasp on the then-present time. There were no stand out singles and nothing to separate it from the deep tracks of their meandering third album, 2007’s Our Love to Admire. It was easy to assume Interpol had peaked with their debut album, 2002’s Turn on the Bright Lights, plateaued with their second, 2004’s Antics, and fallen into obscurity ever since. Fortunately, it is a relief to say that El Pintor is a return to form, a return to the basics, and a return to the urgency that hooked me from the beginning.

However, such a band’s fifth album does not come without sacrifice. Founding bassist Carlos Dengler left the band prior to recording El Pintor, forcing Paul Banks and Co. to pick up the slack. But maybe that’s exactly what they needed. El Pintor shines with some of the same colorful (well, metaphorically grayscale) riffs that made Turn on the Bright Lights such a classic album. Single “All the Rage Back Home” starts the album off right, with lyrics nostalgic for the band’s the early days. “My Blue Supreme,” “Ancient Ways,” and “Tidal Wave” also shine on the record, the latter of which beautifully leads into album closer “Twice as Hard.”

Interpol very well may have peaked long ago, but that doesn’t make their latest effort any less refreshing. El Pintor is not a great album, but it is a solid reinforcement of where Interpol may be headed, even with an arm chopped off in losing Dengler, and it is an improvement on their previous release. And hell, I really like the album artwork, so that’s a plus.

El Pintor: B

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