Skip to main content

Review: Our Love To Admire

The new Interpol album is recently out, with stuffed and mounted (extinct?) animals from kitsch dioaramas on the cover and inside the lyricless booklet. As is well-known, it is their third, but first on a big label. The question that arises on first hearing this moody, slow-burning, sometimes exquisite, even morose album, is: what exactly does this foursome think they're doing?

Labelled under the genre "alternative", American, New Yorkers, and based in the terrorised first decade of the 21st century, Interpol (their name itself is a sign of the times), is a weird cultural throwback. Oddly, the style Interpol have adopted is derived from Joy Division (from a post-industrial town in the North of England) with a hint of The B-52s (listen to those herky-jerky vocals again). Interpol seem like poseurs in this lineage. But they do not parody, but perform a pastiche of a style, and thereby refresh it for the current age.

That is, they sound like Joy Division, if Joy Division (and this is far more the case here than for Editors, for instance) were chemical-using late-nighters in Manhattan post 9/11, instead of, as we know, more complex and limited figures. Interpol - able to think in terms of an American career (Joy Division lost their lead signer on the eve of such a career) - thereby have to plan and execute an album of songs, exploring themes, subjects, using lyrics, and various sonic strategies, to establish a brand for themselves.

As such, the new album is both derivative, and, as a piece of genre work, impressively innovative (as paradoxical as that almost is). Less didactic, or overbearingly symphonic (cacaphonic?) than Arcade Fire, less one-note lo-fi than The Strokes, less pro-American and upbeat than The Killers, and disinterested in cheap forms of epiphany (unlike Coldplay, Snow Patrol and other derivative U2 offshoots) they're marking a niche for themselves as definitively serious, sombre, yet tuneful songwriters, laying down a sort of narcissistic East Coast melancholy soundtrack that Edgar Allan Poe would have understood as just as American as Whitman's more transcendental aims.

Is it a good album? It is a good album. Is it well-crafted? It is well-crafted. The songs are cool, and sinuous in their design. At times, it is small "e" epic. Why do people make such music? Why do people listen to it? Something in us enjoys such sounds, does not refuse such sounds.

Five specs.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

OSCAR SMOSHCAR

The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…