Like so many bands from the early 2000s post-punk revival (think The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Bloc Party), Interpol have been struggling to remain relevant for a while. The band’s last truly great album – their sophomore effort Antics – was released all the way back in 2004, and since then we’ve received three albums of middling quality. Our Love To Admire felt muddled and unfocused despite some highlights, Interpol was a bit of a depressive slog and El Pintor a retread of past glories.
Unfortunately, the band’s latest effort Marauder isn’t the return to form fans have been waiting for. While Interpol do branch out in new directions on some songs, with the disco stomp of ‘Surveillance’ and the humming electronics on ‘NYSMAW’, it suffers from the same major fault as El Pintor: the band play it too safe. Mostly, it’s just Interpol-by-the-numbers.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re a big fan of the band, and songs like ‘If You Really Love Nothing’ and ‘Number 10’ are sure to fit pretty snuggly among Interpol classics in their live shows. But nothing here comes close to hitting the same heights as Turn On The Bright Lights or Antics… Heck, not even El Pintor. Lead single ‘The Rover’ is probably the best of the lot, featuring a propulsive, rollicking rhythm and some characteristically kooky lyrics about the cult leader. The song isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s a lot of fun.
‘If You Really Love Nothing’ is similarly strong, featuring some of the album’s strongest lyrics and some haunting, floating vocals from Paul Banks. I’m also a fan of ‘Mountain Child’, which builds up nicely. Starting out with a lone guitar line, the track picks up more and more energy the further it goes along, eventually finishing out with a great climax. ‘It Probably Matters’ acts as a serviceable closer, featuring some nice reflective lyrics.
However, I’d be lying if I said the album didn’t falter in a few places. Many of the songs on the Marauder feel overly repetitive (even the ones I’m a fan of), circling around the same chords for a few minutes before the ending. They feel like they’re missing a sense of progression or propulsion (‘Mountain Child’ being one of the few exceptions). Because of this, the album starts the blend together a little halfway through, with everything becoming a little too samey. The two interludes attempt to break things up, but neither add anything substantial to the album.
Marauder just seems to lack any strong sense of identity. It’s unlikely to be anyone’s least favourite Interpol album, sure, but it’s even more unlikely to be anyone’s favourite. If you’re a fan of the band, it’s worth a couple listens, but there’s nothing here that they haven’t done better on past releases.
Best Tracks: ‘The Rover’, ‘Mountain Child’, ‘Number 10’.