In September 2017, Interpol made their way to Alexandra Palace to perform their debut album, 'Turn On The Bright Lights', in full. On its 15th anniversary, it felt as thrilling as ever. With an almost businesslike focus, restless and intense, it was a joyous affair that cemented why Interpol are such an important band for so many.
They were never original, with the spectre of Joy Division following them everywhere, but they played up to that unoriginality and had a bit of fun with it. Their sound and lyrics became iconic almost in spite of itself, keeping everything at arm's length so you could just switch off and enjoy it all.
They were adept at creating massive hooks and choruses that defied you to not get swept away in it. But by the release of their self-titled album in 2010, the fun seemed to have stopped. And as the old saying goes, when the fun stops, stop.
Luckily, with their sixth record, 'Marauder', they seem to have recaptured the fun; while there’s little here that’ll join the roster of classics alongside 'Untitled' and 'Evil', you’ll still find sharply concocted songs that bring to mind the Interpol of old.
Lead single 'The Rover', with its surprisingly swing-inspired beat and driving riffs, is an infectiously electric return to form. 'Surveillance', meanwhile, sees Daniel Kessler’s guitar riffs curl and knot around themselves like a snake eating its own tail, all the while Banks’ vocals becoming more and more distorted, eventually lost to the fog.
Despite declaring this their most personal album, ‘Marauder’ feels extraordinarily safe lyrically. Interpol have always been more concerned with creating a mood. They focused more on making an impact by dropping lines that stuck in your head like a limpet to a rock, rather than making you think any deeper than that. ‘Marauder’ doesn’t really have anything that is either deeper or more impactful than what has come before.
While most lines are delivered with that same gravely, tightly coiled voice that Paul Banks has become known for, it feels like he doesn’t have anything particularly new to say. His voice still has a part of play in crafting that iconic Interpol sound, even if it’s not quite being used to its full potential.
Ultimately, ‘Marauder’ feels more like an exercise in nostalgia than anything new; tied to the past just as that Alexandra Palace show was. It hits all the beats you expect of Interpol, which is sort of the point. After trying (and failing) to pull off something different with 'El Pintor' and 'Interpol', it’s clear the only way was backward.
It’s surprisingly not a bad thing, helped by the addition of outside input in the form of Dave Fridmann, their first external producer since 'Our Love To Admire'. ‘Marauder’ doesn’t have its own identity, but it does feel like Interpol are back on the right track. It’s helped them recapture their sense of detached fun, like wearing your sharpest suit to the dingiest bar. Unoriginal? Probably. But does it make a scene when it turns up? Definitely.