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Interpol: Marauder

Interpol: Marauder

Interpol seem to be in a constant battle with nostalgia, and that has only been accentuated in recent years.

Interpol: Marauder

3.25 / 5

Interpol seem to be in a constant battle with nostalgia, and that has only been accentuated in recent years. Marauder is their first album since 2014’s El Pintor, but more importantly, it comes on the heels of a year-long celebration of the band’s brilliant debut Turn on the Bright Lights, an album that still casts a shadow over everything the band has done and will ever do. It seems particularly unfair given that the band were only just figuring themselves out again on El Pintor after a few years in the wilderness. So while the media narrative behind Marauder would like to paint the band as triumphant heroes, the actual album presents what Interpol really are at this point: a once-great band figuring out how to be good without trying to catch lightning in a bottle again.

This is to say that Marauder deliberately avoids playing towards any renewed nostalgia for Interpol. Instead, the band more or less pick up where they left off on El Pintor, building on the base laid on that album with a renewed interest in atmospherics and sounding relatively expansive. Producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) doesn’t make things as weird as he usually does, but he does add flourishes that give e Marauder a decidedly different sound in comparison to the rest of Interpol’s discography. Unfortunately, the end result can sound a bit muddled. Guitars occasionally blend together into something of a garbled sonic mush (particularly on the close of “Mountain Child”), and Paul Banks’ voice is too often buried at the bottom of the mix. Call it experimentation if you’d like, but it’s a misguided experiment, and Marauder suffers as a result.

Marauder still most works, though, even with the handful of missteps in the production booth, and that success is largely a result of Interpol’s songwriting. As on El Pintor, the band have a focused, dynamic set of songs here that focus on the band’s strengths. Banks has claimed that the album’s lyrics form a narrative structure around the story of a self-destructive character named in the album’s title, but while that doesn’t really coalesce in the way it was intended, it does give the album a consistent theme of regret to, which elevates the band’s mid-tempo offerings such as “Complications” and “Stay in Touch.” Interpol also try their hand at new rhythmic ideas (the swinging tempo of “If You Really Love Nothing”) while also remembering to give the fans a little bit of what they want (“The Rover,” “NYSMAW”). The result is a particularly solid album, even if it isn’t spectacular.

There are indications of Interpol attempting something ambitious on Marauder, even as the resulting album is something far safer than one anticipated. However, that doesn’t detract from Marauder being both a good album and a sign that Interpol still have quite a bit of life left in them. Moreover, it’s proof (if proof were needed at this point) that Interpol are not going to let themselves be permanently bound to their past, even after celebrating it so extravagantly just a year ago. Marauder is the sound of a band with their eyes firmly fixed on the future.

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