Interpol’s fifth studio LP, “El Pintor”, begins with the single “All the Rage Back Home.” Within the song’s first minute or so, Paul Banks’s melancholy monotone rings familiar to fans of the New York based post-punk rockers.
No doubt the strongest track on “El Pintor”, at the fifty second mark, Banks’s brooding vocals pick up steam and give way to the frenetic, yet calculated uptempo grove that dominates the next three minutes.
It’s been three years since Interpol went on an extended, if much needed, hiatus from touring and recording. A musical career is a journey and Interpol’s frontman Banks has certainly had his. During his break from Interpol, he released some Interpoly solo material under the pseudonym Julian Plenti to little fanfare.
Shortly thereafter, he unfortunately tried to play the rap game, releasing a mix tape named, no lie, Everybody on My Dick Like They Supposed to Be. Paul Banks is no Kid Cudi, and to compare him to Kid Rock would be a disservice to the oeuvre of America’s Bad Ass.
Perhaps Banks’s miserable attempt at genre hopping served as a lesson, because “El Pintor” is undoubtedly Interpol’s best effort since their debut, Turn on the Bright Lights. There’s nothing groundbreaking on “El Pintor”, but Interpol isn’t supposed to be an earth-shattering band.
In the interim, the group lost their bassist and Banks took over those duties. It’s a barely noticeable line-up change.
Aside from “All the Rage Back Home,” other tracks that stand out include “My Desire” which is right in the Interpol wheelhouse, a dreary love song with wailing guitars and vocals, crescendoing with the couplet “Play me out, that’s why I gave you out/You help by no scars on you” and heavy reverb.
“Anywhere” returns to the uptempo swing from the opening song, and the drumming seems more complex yet on point than usual for Interpol.
“El Pintor” closes with “Twice As Hard” which is the LP’s heaviest track. The song takes a couple of minutes to settle in, but serves as a fantastic bookend to “All the Rage Back Home” as a more introspective, wandering piece with a subtle mood-setting piano more studio effects than any other song on the album.
All in all, “El Pintor” is a fantastic Interpol album. No, it won’t make too many critics’ top ten lists in December, but after a three-year break, following the formula which brought them previous success is welcome indeed.