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Stadium rock production takes off the edge
on 23 July 2007
If you loved Interpol's first two albums then this may come as something of a disappointment. There is little here of the quality of 'Antics' or 'Turn On...' - the tautness has slackened a little; the energy is slowing; and the sound is of stadia, not of basements. Muse producer Rich Costey (or the absence of the previous two albums' Peter Katis) seems to have somehow polished off the atmospheric edge that made Interpol so attractive.
And if it's important to you (and it's important to me), the design has also lost its focus. Just as Interpol's musical discipline seems to have loosened, so their aesthetic adherence to red, white and black is gone, and the replacement - full colour imagery of stuffed lions posed in mid-attack - is pretty woeful. I count three different logos, too, which is never a good sign.
The album is worth buying for three decent tracks - opener Pioneer to the Falls retains the aching quality of earlier material, with some interesting new touches; single Heinrich Maneuver, while a little Interpol-by-numbers, is still enjoyable; and Rest My Chemistry has that mournful quality. Elsewhere No I in Threesome has a nice verse but the chorus is indifferent; The Scale is ploddish, and Mammoth has nice pace but again lacks that tightness of Antics. As the album moves into its second half the material gets more and more like a pale imitation of itself, and lyrically it passes you by - there's little of the claustrophobia of 'Take You on a Cruise' or the panorama of 'NYC'.
It was always a tall order to make three great albums. But two great albums and an OK one is still a very good track record. I only hope they bring Peter Katis back - or someone like Steve Albini, rather than becoming yet another wannabe Coldplay.