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Interpol: A Fine Mess EP

Interpol: A Fine Mess EP

A different Interpol, one that stands in particular contrast to the measured, besuited post-punk outfit we’ve come to know and love over the years.

Interpol: A Fine Mess EP

3.5 / 5

For all of its merits, Interpol’s Marauder found the band at something of a crossroads, unsure of where to go next after indulging in a year’s worth of nostalgic celebration for their inarguable artistic high-water mark. It alternated between off-putting atmospherics and sharp, cutting post-punk in a way that implied that the band may have been throwing what they could at the wall to see what stuck. Again, this isn’t to say that Marauder is bad, but A Fine Mess is a welcome sign that all is not lost for the band. Though short, this collection of songs offers something markedly different from the band, and the diversion is more than welcome.

The centerpiece of the EP is, funnily enough, its opening song. The title track for A Fine Mess presents a different Interpol, one that stands in particular contrast to the measured, besuited post-punk outfit we’ve come to know and love over the years. Beginning with a burst of distorted cacophony, the resulting song is loose and ragged, brimming with a spontaneous energy that Interpol have before now never really exhibited. Soncially, it shows some ties to Marauder (an inevitability given Dave Fridmann’s presence on both projects), but instead of trying to overwhelm the listener with atmospherics, the production homes in on the band’s live ferocity. For a band not known for their aggression, Interpol have turned out something truly surprising with this release just when it was needed.

The rest of the EP doesn’t shine as brightly as “Fine Mess,” but it’s still a thrilling affair. “Real Life” takes the muddy atmospherics of Marauder and perfects them over one of the band’s strongest songs in years. The druggy strut of “Thrones” packs quite a punch, as well, even if Paul Banks’ slow, slurred vocals seem somewhat out of place. If there’s a real stumble on A Fine Mess, it comes in the form of “No Big Deal.” The song isn’t bad or a mistake, but it very clearly lacks the verve and energy that the band are aiming for throughout the EP. Instead, it plays like a pretty okay Interpol song, the kind of thing that the group could write in their sleep at this point. Given that the band seem to be looking for new directions to head off into, it’s surprising that “No Big Deal” is even included on the EP at all.

Still, one slight misstep can’t and shouldn’t be enough to write off an artistic endeavour completely. As a whole, A Fine Mess is refreshing in ways one wouldn’t have expected from Interpol. In the course of five songs, Interpol may have found their way out of the corner that nostalgia and comfort had painted them into over the past few years. For some, the question with each new Interpol release is always whether it’s as good as Turn on the Bright Lights, and for the first time, the band have responded with the only reasonable answer to that question: who cares?

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