Thursday, July 12, 2007

First Blush: Interpol - Our Love to Admire

I picked up Interpol’s first record, Turn on the Bright Lights at some point when it was still pretty new. I enjoyed it enough, but it took me a long time to become a real fan of theirs. I didn’t pick up their second album, Antics for quite some time – largely because it was always 18 dollars. But a friend’s Best Of 2005 comp featured the song “Evil”, a tune which I have had on high rotation ever since. The new single sounds like more of the same from these shoegazers, but because I like what they’ve done before, I am not at all discouraged by that. Let’s check it out!

Track 1 – Pioneer to the Falls
0:22 – Spooky guitar and a little piano open things up.
0:47 – “Show me the dirtpile and I will pray that the soul can take three stowaways.” This is really dark.
1:10 – Drums enter, but we’re still in creepy territory.
2:41 – “Girl I know you try. You fly straight into my heart.” The sound is really clean. Like every instrument is isolated intentionally. This is a good first track.
3:49 – Had a big crescendo, but then dropped back to the minimal beginning section.
4:13 – A capella here.
4:52 – They’re going for “haunting” on the opener and I think they nailed it.

Track 2- No I in Threesome
0:02 – Bass intro like much of their previous songs.
0:19 – And piano over the top with the drums coming in.
0:50 – Almost kind of poppy. I don’t really mean that. I don’t know what I mean. But this track has a different feel than any Interpol song I’ve heard before. But it’s still distinctly them.
2:29 – “Babe it’s time we gave something new a try.” So maybe this is a very literal track – trying to talk his woman into going for the ménage a trois. If so, that’s kind of dispassionate. Or at least I don’t know why the rest of us should care about it.

Track 3- The Scale
0:03 – Guitar led into one extremely loud pound on the drums. I dug it.
1:02 – “Well, I made you. And now I take you back. It’s too late, but today I can define the lack.” What always confuses me about this band is that many of the lyrics are plaintive, yet the vocals are never delivered with any sense of begging or humility. Paul Banks always sounds like he doesn’t really care that much.
3:13 – Echoey guitar solo leads to the end of the song. I was hoping for a bigger payoff.

Track 4 – The Heinrich Maneuver
0:02 – “How are things on the west coast?” By now we’ve all heard this one, and I have to say it’s loaded with hooky goodness. I get it in my head and it stays there all day.
0:49 – Folks over at popular Chicago Bulls blog Blog-A-Bull had previously mentioned the Hinrich Maneuver. It occurs when Kirk Hinrich dribbles all the way through the lane and then keeps curling to the other side. I highly doubt that Interpol had that in mind when they wrote this song. They’re probably Knicks fans and they spelled Hinrich wrong.
2:13 – “’Cause today, my heart swings.” I like the line. I s’pose it’s as good an “I’m not over you, but I’m over you” statement one could write.

Track 5 – Mammoth
0:10 – Vocals are almost completely covered by drums and guitar which are pounding ahead.
0:58 – Now the vocals are louder, but so is everything else and I can’t make anything out except an accentuated “fucking”.
1:40 – Lots of changes going on in this tune, but the whole thing is really “up”.
2:12 – “Spare me the suspense!”
2:51 – Damn, that was a loud thump. I’m not sure the overall track is all that great, but it has a ton of quality elements in it.
3:48 – Building and building and…
3:55 – Sailing out with about fifteen seconds of steady, pulsing beats.

Track 6 – Pace is the Trick
0:42 – Not much to say yet. Long intro on this one (with vocals).
1:16 – A lot of the fire is gone on this track. It’s nothing bad, but it’s just low-key. I can’t imagine this one will be any good live.
2:27 – “And to allll the destruction in man. And to all the corruption in my hand.”
2:50 – OK, things are picking up.
3:08 – It’s still more of a “pop” song, and I don’t think it shows their best qualities, but there’s more potential here than I gave the song credit for in the early going.

Track 7 – All Fired Up
0:17 – Was that some horns? Couldn’t tell.
0:39 – Drums just pounding while ___ sings, “I’ll take you on!” Another punchy track here.
2:00 – This is somehow lighter and heavier than a usual Interpol track at the same time. Like it’s dense and agile at the same time. Does that make any sense?
2:38 – “I’ve got this soul. It’s all fired up!” See what I mean? Heavy and light?

Track 8 – Rest my Chemistry
0:45 – Nothing new to report. A slower song with a rather long intro.
1:23 – “I’ven’t slept for two days. I’ve bathed in nothing but sweat. And I’ve made hallways, seeds for things to regret.” Not sure if I heard that right, but it’s clearly about worry. Or maybe about drugs.
1:47 – “Tonight I’m gonna rest, my chemistry.” OK, it’s drugs.
2:37 – Things drop off a bit here as ___ says “You’re so young,” as if he’s talking to a little brother or perhaps a young lover. Like he’s trying to help despite his own foibles.

Track 9 – Who Do You Think
0:23 – After twenty seconds of silence, the sound comes charging up and keeps kicking.
0:50 – “I only call them when I know I don’t see them.” Why would you need to call someone if you could see him? I’m just askin’.
1:16 – Fastest song on the album thus far. It’s a bit more straightforward than the other ones here.
2:41 – A good way to get us to the last two tracks of the album. I’m not complaining. Nine tracks in, I’m overly pleased.

Track 10 – Wrecking Ball
0:04 – Not a Crooked Fingers cover. Although that would have been shocking I suppose.
0:25 – The album art and particularly the info is very minimalist. There are photos of Wild Kingdom dioramas, but the disc, back cover, and any pages in the booklet with words are pretty much all black. Nigel Tufnel’s going to sue.
2:08 – Least interesting song so far. The vocals are featured, but not much is going on.
2:43 – Everything just dropped out.
4:23 – And stayed out.

Track 11 – The Lighthouse
0:46 – No drums or bass – just jangly guitar and vocals all with a lot of echo.
2:01 – Piano and bass join us. But only a little.
2:13 – “What do the waves have to say now?”
3:53 – Very dreamy song. I’m ready for bedtime.
4:26 – And the drums come in. The guitar sounds like it was lifted from a spaghetti western. Or maybe that’s because of the chimes. It’s plodding, but powerful.

The hooks are hidden, like they always are on an Interpol record. The first listen was alternately enjoyable and intriguing. Basically, I don’t know what the hell’s going on here yet, but I know I like it. I have no idea what the reviews look like – I’m guessing a lot of complaints that they haven’t changed their style enough. But I would disagree with that notion. This is definitely unique. They’re doing what I wish the Pumpkins would have done yesterday – mixing things up a bit. There are real ebbs and flows, not just over the entire album, but within the songs themselves. I anticipate spinning this disc liberally between now and Lollapalooza. I’m sure they’re going to be a bit stoic onstage, but if they play well, I won’t care.


Anonymous said...

I love the cd. Played it 4 times in a row at work yesterday. I don't believe there are as many catchy upity tunes like Evil or Slow Hands, but it's still great music. My favorite after the first few listens in Pioneer to the Falls. I am not a huge fan of the album cover though. I prefered their fairly bland, 3 colored covers better. But if not liking the cover is the only thing I dislike about the album, we are in business!

Anonymous said...

Is that a smallish Tyrannosaurus doing a deer from behind on the cover?