Album Reviews | Interpol – El Pintor (2014)

Is This ItInterpol is one of those bands that is well known for its debut but hasn’t really made any noise since. Arriving in the wake of the StrokesIs This It, Interpol was part of the new wave/post-punk revival of the early 2000s, and their excellent 2002 debut Turn On the Bright Lights is one of the best albums of that era. It sold pretty well, too, achieving a gold certification in both the US and the UK. The band’s 2004 follow-up Antics did slightly better, going gold in the US, UK, and Australia. Their subsequent albums — 2007‘s Our Love to Admire and 2010‘s Interpol — debuted in the top ten in both the US and UK but failed to achieve any certifications aside from going silver in the UK. It’s hard not to view El Pintor as a reaction to this situation, as it sounds a lot like their debut.

Turn on the Bright LightsIn fact, if you go straight from listening to Turn on the Bright Lights to El Pintor, it won’t sound like much has happened in the interim — likely how Interpol wants to present it. Never mind that Our Love to Admire was released on major label Capitol, which didn’t bring them any additional success. Instead they found themselves back where they started at “mid-major” indie Matador, releasing a self-titled album deep into their career as a means of clarifying their true identity. That album didn’t do that great either, but at least they weren’t biting off more than they could chew. They likely must have felt lost on Capitol‘s deep roster, since they couldn’t have been very high on the label’s priorities list. But no matter. That’s done and we now have El Pintor to enjoy.

And enjoyable it is. Even if it doesn’t break any new ground for the band (it’s more of the same) and isn’t as fresh as their debut (the songwriting just isn’t as sharp), it’s a fun album to put on, even if it doesn’t offer much lasting value. The songs tend to run together, but there are some good ones here regardless, like the lead track, “All the Rage Back Home,” and the final two tracks, “Tidal Wave” and “Twice as Hard.” “Tidal Wave” is one I’ve gotten stuck in my head at least once and should easily make the cut of my favorite songs of 2014 list.


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