Interpol – Our Love To Admire

Interpol
Our Love To Admire

Judging by the cover art, Interpol’s new album is all about survival. Whether the picture actually originated from one of those predator exhibits at a natural history museum or not is besides the point: what is clear, however, is that the elk-like creature is about to be mauled by two ferocious beasts. Poor thing. Then again, if we consider the title of the second track on the album, we must admit that there’s “No I in Threesome”. Looks like the elk should’ve never gotten involved.

Generally, when we think about animals, one of two things happens – whether consciously intended or otherwise: either we project human qualities onto the animal realm (Peter Singer anyone?) or we treat humanity as if it were fully animal (Darwin was a sexist). The real question here becomes, which trick is Interpol employing? If “Pace is the Trick” (track six), then we are given the following clue: “And to all the destruction in man / Well, I see you as you take your pride, my lioness / Your defenses seem wise / I cannot press”. Regardless of the answer, one thing is for sure: throughout this album, Interpol constantly tether their chords to a grand dictum on nature – one which is thematized by biology, instinct, and drive – but more so than anything else – love.

Of course, this barely scratches the surface. Our Love to Admire is also an album structured around desire, and lack thereof. From somber beats to beating hearts, all of the songs are love songs, at a base level, or modest inflexions on what it feels like to fall in and out of love…in song form. Even by Interpol standards, the songs are very simple, instrumentally and lyrically speaking; yet the accessibility makes the songs much more compelling, not less, and the atmosphere which is generated allows enough space for the lyrics to be absorbed in a full-bodied, almost vascular manner. What really clinches my interest is the breadth covered by the assorted sentiments broadcasted by lead singer Paul Banks. The ambivalence and brutal honesty of the lyrics is well-expressed by “Heinrich Maneuver”, a track which is available on www.interpolnyc.com: “But I don’t want to take your heart / and I don’t want a piece of history / No I don’t want to read your thoughts anymore / My god / Because, today, my heart swings.”

Not familiar with Interpol? If a band’s sound could really be conveyed through merely charting similarities and influences, several comparisons would be thereby warranted: Joy Division. The Chameleons. Television. The most alcohol-soaked ballads of The Doors. And, to be particularly vicious, a down-tempo version of “Mr. Brightside”.

Apparently, this album is a departure from previous efforts, especially since it was the first album recorded in their own stomping grounds, beloved New York City. Furthermore, it’s the first record from Interpol that has included the keyboards from the earliest arrangements of the songs. But before deeming the record more experimental or atmospheric than Interpol’s other albums, we should remember that the band had always created music which is ripe with atmosphere and environment (recall “NYC” from critically-acclaimed Turn On the Bright Lights). A few months ago, the band commented that they were “fired up” about this album, which might explain what is easily the most upbeat track on the album, “All Fired Up”. This track also features some of the album’s most interesting lyrics; Banks contends with the force of a threatened cave lion: “I teach you of death’s desires / Reflecting in lakes / as I lead you in a fearful
file / to a precipitous of fate / and I welcome you / I welcome your sweethearts that bleed and break / I’ll take you on”.

The album ends with a rolling, oceanic track entitled “Lighthouse”. But what do the waves have to say, Interpol? Will you really take them on, or will they have their way with you? “Wrecking Ball” encourages us to “Stay and fight, stay and fight, stay and fight”…but the fight depicted on this album sometimes feels more like lallygagging in some sort of a moratorium (amore-torium – get it?). And that’s precisely when the lions begin tearing your limbs off. As Interpol would have it, “Alone, you can’t make amends.” But neither can you when you’re at the risk of drowning in a tepid ocean of indie-brit-pop-dreamy-post-punk-rock.

To be more concise: do I recommend this album? I think it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re a hardcore Interpol fan, already accustomed to the gloomy, brooding aspects of the band’s full-releases, I would strongly recommend Our Love to Admire as a solid release which easily competes with Antics. However, if you’ve only dabbled, this album isn’t explosive enough to edge out many of the other recent releases in this genre.

Now what did I do with my shoegazing records?