El Pintor Album Review
Released September 9, 2014
Genre: Indie Rock, Post Punk Revival, Gloom Rock
Interpol is undoubtedly in love with with New York City. You can hear it in their music, their lyrics, and in the albums they create. Even when they aren’t explicitly expressing the Big Apple, they evoke what it feels like to be in New York: at times horrifying, but at times tranquil and peaceful. And this vivid picture they paint justifies the album title of El Pintor: translated in Spanish as “the painter”, as well as doubling as an anagram for Interpol. Clever as it can get.
Of course in this review I’m going to mention Turn On The Bright Lights. There’s no going around it, it’s their biggest album, one of my all time favorites, and most likely the album everyone will come to remember this band by. But another reason why TOTBL should be mentioned is because that sound is what garnered Interpol their success. On El Pintor Interpol take the same approach, bringing in Daniel Kessler’s beautiful, intense and emotive guitar tones while Paul Banks’ notable croon snarls and soothes throughout.
However, something, rather someone, is missing: bassist Carlos Dengler, whose driven bass grooves were crucial to Interpol’s success. But while listening to El Pintor, the entirety of it doesn’t feel decimated or incomplete but rather as a refreshed, new entity. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Paul Banks said “I feel like we’re a new animal, and I think that makes this record pretty exciting.” With Banks handling the bass grooves, the record sounds as if Dengler never left. As if Interpol weren’t one man short.
Like every Interpol song, I slowly grew into “All The Rage Back Home”. Interpol has never been about drastic evolution but rather coloring inside the bold lines first drawn on TOTBL. Antics brought the pummeling fury and catchy hooks, while their lackluster self titled effort was as flaccid and malaise as the band could ever get. When I first heard the swinging strings of Daniel Kessler’s guitar, I knew that Interpol were back to the drawing board.
El Pintor is just as intense as its predecessors: vigorous crescendos, wailing guitars, driving bass, and completely re-energized drums behind the wheel. El Pintor is as refreshing as a tidal wave: pristine at its peak, and even more beautiful when it all comes crashing down, dispersing all of Interpol’s trademarks in one siting. “My Blue Supreme” has the catchiness that Interpol so rarely dips its toe in, “Breaker 1” sounds as if “Obstacle 1” was looked through lens of remorse, and the vigorous attitude of “Ancient Ways” furiously pummels through showcasing an entirely new animal behind the wheel. The album closer “Twice As Hard” careens left and right, up and down as Banks’ baritone builds up the potent closer, before silently fading away.
Admirers of Turn On The Bright Lights should have no trouble finding appeal in this album because Interpol’s music wasn’ always about any drastic switch ups or experimentation, it was always about building upon what they first laid down in 2002. It was always about sticking to the same route, and becoming stronger and focused because of it all while steering away from irrelevancy. A lot has changed since 2002, but Interpol hasn’t. They may be down a man, but that isn’t stopping one of indie rock’s best bands out there. When the bright lights first turned on, the crowd surfing and moshing stopped. Time stood still, and so did the listeners, absorbing the beauty that is Interpol. With El Pintor, time has stood still once again.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: All The Rage Back Home, My Desire, My Blue Supreme, Everything Is Wrong, Breaker 1, Ancient Ways
LEAST FAV TRACK: Anywhere