Interpol – El Pintor (Review)


The beginning of last week, Interpol released their fifth studio album El Pintor. Interpol built their name in the early 2000s with their debut album Turn on the Bright Lights which was released to high critical praise. With the success of their subsequent albums, Interpol became increasingly recognized in the indie music scene. They were the essential, cool New York indie punk band, clad in black and playing somber sounds. However as the decade passed, the punk-rock glamour of Interpol dimmed when El Pintor came out.

Although the brooding style is still there, El Pintor lacks inspiration compared to its past albums. Interpol has always been compared to bands like Joy Division and The Chameleon, but with their new album, the band is shedding their post-punk influences.

What is still great about this album is that it keeps the band’s distinct staccato guitar sounds. If one was to listen to “Desire” and then “Same Town, New Story”, one can still be enraptured by two different but equally rhythmic strums of electric guitar strings. Although the sounds of the guitar are not as grand this time around, Interpol are heading in a different direction with El Pintor, adding acoustic songs which display a different tempo or technique of strumming the guitar to add texture.

Not only is the sound different in El Pintor, the over-all style has shifted as well. What made the Interpol music so well liked among the indie- music crowd in the past was how quick-paced and urgent it sounded; songs from Turn on the Bright Lights and Antics exploded with energetic bass. El Pintor can still be great for some heading banging but it does not exude the angsty style found in the band’s past work. “All the Rage Back Home” ,the album’s most recognized song, and “Breaker 1”are examples of how the songs seem to be more blue tunes than sounds of emotional despair. Although most of the songs are quite catchy and pleasant to listen to, Paul Banks’s vocals sounded flat in some songs such as “Ancient Ways.”

Interpol have seemed to lose the punk flair, but in El Pintor they gave their audience a fresh rock style. Instead of Joy Division, the sound of El Pintor seems more similar to Cage the Elephant with a melancholic twist. The songs “Tidal Wave” and “Anywhere” are examples of the catchy tunes that are on the album. Although I may sound like I am not very impressed by the album in the review, I do enjoy listening to the album. I am a little disappointed that 10 tracks of El Pintor lack the surprising elements, the sparks, which previous albums have had. Yet, I believe the album still has some excellent melodies and can be appreciated by a wider audience.

Rating: W-P

RIYL: Joy Division, The Strokes, The Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand

Key Tracks: “Same Town, New Story”, “My Desire”, “All the Rage Back Home”

About Ellen Chen

I’m Ellen Chen and I’m currently a sophomore majoring in marketing and finance. The pillars of my life are food, fashion, and friends. Music happens to be another that doesn’t start with an f. When it comes to music, I’m down for anything, from electronic remixes to rock n roll.

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