Three years since the release of their last record, 2007's poorly received 'Our Love To Admire,' it seems like there's been some unrest in the Interpol camp in the interim. 'Interpol' is the New York rockers' final album with much beloved bassist Carlos D, though the band admit he'd had one foot out the door for some time before. This, their fourth record, also sees Interpol say goodbye to major label Capitol in favour of setting up their own independent label, Soft Limit. That the band has moved back to their indie roots is only reflected insofar as this is probably the least accessible of their albums so far.
Interpol could never have been described as a very happy, "up" band, but they earned a massive and hugely loyal following with belters like 'Evil' and 'Slow Hands', while casual fans have been fruitlessly awaiting material of equal calibre ever since. In one way, Interpol's failure to focus on banging out catchy tunes has allowed them to develop on this record, playing with jarring minor sequences on the intriguing 'Always Malaise (The Man I Am)' and grumbling sinisterly in Spanish on 'The Undoing'.
Of course, that distinctive pointed, echoing electric guitar is as omnipresent as ever, and Interpol still deliver the same spacious, airy atmosphere that is part of the reason they're such an awesome live act. With layer upon layer of reverb-heavy vocals and sharp guitars, 'Memory Serves' is a beautifully dense creation that expands from its beginning to its end. Elsewhere, 'Summer Well' and 'Try It On' use sparse and repetitive piano to their best advantage.
Yes, underwhelming singles 'Lights' and 'Barricade' do grow on you eventually, but with an incessantly dreary tone and a severe lack of hooks to grab hold of, 'Interpol' is unlikely to grab the public imagination like the band's prior feats. A slow-burning record rather than an immediate one, those looking for the catchy Interpol anthems of old will have more luck with Julian Plenti.