CD roundup — Satisfying returns from two beloved bands

Oughts darlings Interpol find redemption while The Walkmen make a cozy record for the impending Autumn.

Andrew Penkalski

Interpol – Interpol

Label: Matador Records

 

Everything wonderful about Interpol had faded by their 2007 major-label debut “Our Love to Admire.” The cold urban isolation so heavily rooted in their early post-punk ways had been sacrificed for a collection of lazy hooks. Simply put, they got boring.

Their newly released renaissance on Matador Records not only marks a satisfying return to form, but also a surprising growth. On their enthralling new self-titled release, crescendos seem to be the name of the game.

The band’s trademarks are undoubtedly in tact. The slow, fuzzy guitar riffs keep the first 10 seconds of each song barely discernable from the next. The textured lines from now defunct bassist Carlos Dengler act as the crux for the majority of tracks. The latter fact is greatly disheartening because of how outstanding the group sounds as a collective on this record. Frontman Paul Banks’ vocals now carry monumental wails over the slow-paced albeit cacophonic heights. On the selfless, romantic track “Memory Serves,” Banks has never sounded better as he howls, “It would be no price to pay.”

To think that such a satisfying record could come immediately prior to Dengler’s exit paves a nervous path for the future. At least we were shown one last satisfying hurrah from one of the central bands of the last decade.

 

3/4 Stars

 

The Walkmen – Lisbon

Label: Fat Possum

 

What an interesting footing The Walkmen have found over the last two albums. 2008’s “You & Me“ introduced newfound warmth to a band that became distractingly cold.

Lisbon only adds to this collection of sunnier songs. While it may not expand into the new territories that “You & Me” did, the album continues to build on this frustrated romanticism where they left off.

Their greatest strength remains their punctuated fervor. On “Angela Surf City,” lead singer Hamilton Leithauser toys with apathetic lyrics, “Angela, What’s the difference? Today’s a day like any other.” Such silly musings are only shattered when the frenetic band kicks in with rolling snares over Leithauser’s sincerely scorned screams.

Again, The Walkmen’s appeal heavily rests on the percussive talent of Matt Barrick. Yet the groundwork of “You & Me” is still present in the simpler tracks, relying heavily on bass guitar lines. The penultimate track, “While I Shovel Snow,” demonstrates their capacity for letting the strings carry the quieter weight. Once again, it’s a decision that adds to that California warmth at the colder points.

Make no mistake, The Walkmen are likely only an album away from some necessary growth. Maybe it’s the fall releases that have made the cozier sounds that much more appealing. Regardless, The Walkmen have seemingly found the ideal sound for the hopeless romantic. At least for now, there is no reason to complain.

 

3/4 Stars