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Interpol turns off their bright lights

Interpol’s latest, ‘Our Love to Admire’ officially kills the NYC buzz-band

What’s to admire again, exactly?

Interpol has kept everyone dangling in their clutches for nearly three years now without any new material – or, hell, any word at all – since 2004’s so-so sophomore album “Antics,” and apparently the very best these former buzz-band creatures of the night can extend is a lengthened evoking (i.e. an entire album) of those scant songs that hardly sufficed in the first place.


ALBUM: Our Love to Admire
LABEL: Capitol Records

Once a sleek, post-punk, now-wave apparatus that seemed poised to resurrect the dark, dystopian rock of old, Interpol is now merely phoning it in on a soon-to-be-cut cash card.

The foursome first introduced their midnight-paranoia world of blithe seduction and bleak sadness on their 2002 debut, “Turn on the Bright Lights,” a direct result of the bygone Gotham that is New York City.

Remember that album’s marvelous, spine-shivering opener “Untitled”? The boys barely knew how to play their instruments, and they sputtered and slurred their way through the head-scratchingly cryptic lyrics, but there was something about it that was so chilling, so surprising.

Interpol fed their own air of mystery, what with their borrowing of dusted-over record collections (insert Joy Division comparison here), their fashion-victim uniform of leisure suits and their album color schemes of red, white and black. The booming drums and brooding basslines made as much a statement as frontman Paul Banks’ voice, and their goth-disco grooves were, while melancholy, still strangely danceable. It was all they had to offer, but it was somehow just fine.

It seems even one-trick ponies lose sight of their trademark strategies once the initial hype cools. “Our Love to Admire” sounds like a mad dash in the wrong direction, like a band trying to Febreze the dark, dank ambience out of their blazers with a major label unveiling of predictable ornamentations.

There seems to be no plausible explanation as to why Interpol has so quickly forgotten what made them exciting in the first place. Sure, the band sounds more skilled and their compositions tighter, but wasn’t their initial appeal based on that type of attractively detached limitation? Does anyone actually want to hear how Interpol sounds clawing toward an arena audience? Somehow, this album’s indulgence bodes less decadence than their previous two efforts. In trying to be grand and stately, “Our Love to Admire” comes off unnecessarily bloated and completely lacking of that familiar, frenetic, junkie-for-love-or-whatever’s-a-quick-fix heartbeat.

Throwaway first single “The Heinrich Maneuver” is even more of a letdown in that it was chosen as the album’s chief representation. It doesn’t grab in the slightest, lacking the devilish thrills of previous songs.

Banks’ lyrics have always swaggered a thin line between poetic and purely inane, but here they’re almost laughable, especially when mumbled in his disenchanted, marblemouthed robot monotone. He just sounds bored with his band’s big-budget gestures, bored enough perhaps to sing about persuading his girlfriend to beckon her best mate to bed (that would be “No ‘I’ In Threesome,” which speaks volumes about Interpol’s ever-developing emotional maturity since we last parted).

It’s hard to pinpoint what precisely doesn’t work, because “Our Love to Admire” isn’t terrible, per se. There’s nothing outwardly unlistenable about it – it’s just disappointingly diluted. Opening track “Pioneer to the Falls” is fairly decent, a spooky, slow-burning number that overshadows the rest of what it introduces. “Rest My Chemistry” is another sexy outing, but still gets lost in a sea of drudgery. Plus, when you consider that it’s about Banks’ wondering whether or not to bang a groupie while under severe influence, you get sorta flaccid.

Those lurkers akin to Interpol’s city-caused burnouts, who cared so much in the beginning and all throughout that aforementioned three-year wait, have likely lost interest; “Our Love to Admire” isn’t going to win them back. Where Interpol was once ghostly (which worked in their favor), now they’re just ghosts. Even worse, ghosts of something much better when fully alive and throbbing.

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