Earning an army of discerning listeners

Looking back, those comparisons between the two big New York bands of the early Noughties seem rather erroneous. If The Strokes were a rusty buzzsaw of visceral energy, Interpol’s ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ was a surgical scalpel, the sound of a band arriving as the finished article. While their neighbours were cavorting with A-listers and gracing the tabloids, Interpol (relatively) quietly won over an army of discerning listeners.

But where next? Hark back to the original sound that won over so many, or continue the transition to mainstream acceptance…how about a mix of the two. Lead single ‘The Heinrich Manoeuvre’ is, in truth, not radically dissimilar from ‘Slow Hands’, all elastic guitars, driving chorus and radio-friendly lustre. It seems to offer little new to the blueprint of the more upbeat moments of ‘Antics’, yet there is a gloss to the production and an extension to Banks’ vocal range that suggests this is a bridging track rather than a rehash.

The obvious single material has taken on a poppier edge. The synth parts are more prominent, the guitars sharper, the vocals more accessible. Have Interpol gone all Killers on us? Not at all, as on this album’s predecessor, despite the extra sheen, they never stray far from epic. There are few bands with the knack for a slow burner like ‘Rest My Chemistry’, or the ability to make the rattling sparseness of ‘The Lighthouse’ sound so bleak and yet so beautiful.

Essentially, they have distilled everything that made their first two offerings great into one melting pot, thrown in a bit extra, and served up an album that sounds diverse, developed, and yet quintessentially Interpol. They’ve proved they can last the distance, added some sass to the seriousness, and the results are as pleasing as they are powerful.

Follow Clash: