Interpol's self-titled fourth album is to be their last with bassist Carlos Dengler. Whoever replaces him will have some big shoes to fill, as his busy but rhythmic style and interplay with drummer Sam Fogarino provide a much-needed spark to the occasionally draggy, but melodically and atmospherically dense tunes contained on this record.
The tunes on this album often have multiple layers of melodies - in addition to the vocals, which are often harmonized, there are generally one or more guitar and keyboard countermelodies. The whole top end, in typical Interpol fashion, is positively awash in reverb and wide-open stereo space, which together with the dense melodies, lends a rich, spacey texture to the tunes.
That said, my attention drifted from this album more than once because of the utter lack of rhythmic drive in all too many places. Outside of the rhythm section, most of the parts are very straight or just consist of long, held-out notes. Furthermore, the tunes often unfold at a pace that can only be described as glacial. While this contributes to the chilled, spacey vibe, it can often get to be too much. On the best tracks, especially "Success" and "Barricades," the rhythm section of Dengler and Fogarino keeps things moving forward while the rest of the band does their thing; the worst tracks, like the lead single "Light" and much of the latter half of the album, come out lifeless and flat.
There is a lot to like here; however, the slow pace made it difficult for me to take in one sitting. However, if you gravitate towards layered, spacey melodies - and if you are a fan of Interpol's previous work, you probably do - this is as good a listen any. -peter menniti
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