Interpol’s sixth album, ‘Marauder’, is adorned with an iconic photo of Attorney General Elliot Richardson. It’s 1973 and he’s in the midst of resigning, having refused President Nixon’s orders to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was leading an investigation into the Watergate scandal. In black and white, Richardson sits alone in the centre – alienated yet content in this selfless and righteous act against corruption. How, though, do Interpol fit into this picture?
The first taster of the NYC trio’s new record came with ‘The Rover’, a break-neck highway speed chase of paranoia that called back to the post-punk exuberance of ‘Roland’, which appeared on their immaculate and game-changing debut album ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’. But this time there seems to be something different. Instead of a glacial sheen, there’s no filter. The band sound like they’ve been knocked off their axis and are feverishly on the prowl.
The early sessions for ‘Marauder’ grew so rowdy that the police kicked them out of the rehearsal space they were borrowing from Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Once the album was written, they hit the road to tour a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the seminal ‘Bright Lights’ before returning to record with producer Dave Friddman. You may know him for bringing out the weirdly wonderful side of MGMT, Tame Impala and Flaming Lips. Here, he encouraged a more reactive and automatic approach – committed to straight to tape with minimal overdubs and mistakes intact.
‘Marauder’ takes the punchy, warm sound of 2014 predecessor ‘El Pintor’ and folds in some much darker, more menacing flourishes. Opener ‘If You Really Love Nothing’ adopts a similar steady and spacious arena-ready space of second album ‘Antics’, though is much gnarlier. ‘Complications’ takes up the tension with a more deranged waltz, as frontman Paul Banks sums up the record’s themes of making peace with his past self. He’ll no longer be “rolling in sinful, sidling up the street.” Instead, he says, “I’m trying to simplify my scene.”
With Banks’ Henry Miller-esque lyrics and the Lynchian, jarring nature of Daniel Kessler’s guitar parts, ‘Marauder’ paints Interpol’s atmospheric tension thicker than ever before. Album highlight ‘Stay In Touch’ uses these elements create a circular trance, while ‘Surveillance’ is a more cinematic and three-dimensional blossoming of their early sound. That’s what sets this record apart. It’s a living and breathing evolution, moving further away from their past. With the muscular drums and rare falsetto on ‘Party’s Over’, Interpol march on with even more compulsion than before.
Ultimately, though, you may find yourself longing for a release from the tension. You may crave that one devious, killer hook that they’ve mastered before. The drums and rhythm section are turned up so high that it feels like you’re hugging the wall of the practice room, contemplating calling the police on the band yourself. Still, it’s refreshing to see a band of their legacy take such a risk. Just like the image of Richardson’s resignation, Interpol stand alone, free from corrupting influences, marauding through their own singular and instinctive quest to do themselves justice.