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Published on September 13th, 2018 | by voxx

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Interpol – Marauder

The NYC grandees return revived and at the peak of their powers…

You can, it is said, see things better from further away. It’s now 17 years since the first flash of the early-noughties New York rock scene, long enough to romanticise it, revive it and chronicle it – as Lizzy Goodman’s oral history Meet Me In The Bathroom proved last year with its enlightening tales of The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol, among many.

What characterised the music of this time was its startling air of detachment – a delicious, desirous malaise. It’s far away enough now to see what this scene offered after the cosy parochialism of Britpop, and to recognise the cultural forces that surrounded it: 9/11, recession, the legacy of Rudy Giuliani, NYC’s anti-nightlife mayor, as well as to see that this was before the age of Facebook or rolling news or even MySpace, when mobile phones were not ubiquitous or much cop.

Six albums in, the world in which Interpol write and record, and in which their albums are listened to, has changed dramatically. The sound they pioneered close to 20 years ago now runs up against an array of modern-day challenges: how do you maintain detachment in an age of hyper-connectedness? How do you uphold an air of elegant boredom in the era of app-skipping?

On Marauder, Interpol have approached these dilemmas by replicating some of their earlier tricks. To record their debut, Turn On The Bright Lights, the band left New York for Tarquin Studios in Connecticut; this time they relocated to upstate New York. For the first time since 2007’s Our Love To Admire the band also employed the objective ears of an outside producer (Dave Fridmann), who encouraged them to record to two-inch tape, to avoid too many over-dubs or too much over-thought. Record and walk away.

This alluring marriage of cool distance and fist-punched viscerality is done to perfection, but there is more here too. In many ways, Marauder is a continuation of the sound they brought to 2014’s El Pintor – a growing boldness of texture that strays beyond the sleek contours of post-punk, and a warmth in its unfamiliar and frequently delightful rhythms. It’s there on the driving, gorgeous ‘Surveillance’, and also on ‘Stay In Touch’ – in the burrowing persistence of Daniel Kessler’s guitar and the classic soul swagger of Sam Fogarino’s drums, as Paul Banks sings of a fleeting love affair: “It was one time, and you’re a scent on the breeze ever since.”

Previously, Banks’s storytelling stood at an icy remove, but here he presents his most personal lyrics yet. At moments the shift is quite startling – the new intimacy in their language of “galavanting hearts” and how “electric yields to skin”, the confessional talk of “pawning my days away” and of how you “reach out to emptiness” when you sleep in the afternoon.

Banks has spoken of this album’s sense of reckoning, and particularly of how the title track tells of a man a little like his younger self, who takes a precarious approach to life, ravaging friendships and relationships. This LP, he has said, is a farewell of sorts, a process of “giving him a name and putting him to bed.” And perhaps this is the trick that Interpol have pulled off so cleverly here: Marauder is not the sound of a group chasing lost sounds or long ago glories, rather it is a band detaching itself from its past, from a time that has long defined them; it is the sound of growing older, closer and more open.

- By Jake White


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