The Lowdown: For their sixth record, Marauder, Interpol brought in producer Dave Fridmann, an industry stalwart responsible for honing the sounds of artists such as MGMT, The Flaming Lips, and Mercury Rev. But these percussive acts have little in common with Interpol, and Fridmann’s approach doesn’t quite work on Marauder.
The Good: Banks is still delivering his vocals in his classic slow, lingering way to remind everyone about his feelings. And guitarist Daniel Kessler maintains his stellar guitar work. “The Rover” is a solid single and clear album highlight with a lot of forward momentum. “Flight of Fancy” is also lovely, reminiscent of a more classic Interpol sound that lets Banks take the lead.
Lyrically, Banks croons seductively to his subjects, recalling erotic memories and inevitable heartbreaks. On “If You Really Love Nothing”, he invokes images of blood and arteries as he sings of his desire, talking of tracing holes on her dress, on her chest. “Stay in Touch” is an achingly and melodramatically sexy reflection on an illicit affair: “I came to see you in starlight and let electric fields yield to skin/ Leave my head to spin, rush forward to leave my bed in sin.”
The Bad: Marauder’s mixing brings up the levels of Sam Fogarino’s drums to an absurd degree, muffling the vocals and guitar. This becomes all the more distracting as you register just how much emphasis is being placed on persistent hi-hats, not something the drummer has relied on particularly heavily in the past.
For Interpol in its current iteration, sans original bassist Carlos Dengler’s melodic, lustful bass lines, playing down Banks’ voice is a bad idea. He rightfully crops up in any discussion about memorable rock vocalists, with his moans and howls and murmurs, which convey sex and sadness at every moment. And the crisp, single-note guitar rhythm that Banks developed played thrillingly off that brooding voice. Fogarino and Kessler are both hugely talented musicians and part of the band’s identity. But when we talk about what makes Interpol Interpol, it’s Banks.
The Verdict: Marauder is still Interpol, and it’s still pretty good. It’s got mood and emotion for days. But because the album is marred by nonexistent bass lines and, most concerningly, production and mixing choices that run completely at odds with Interpol’s natural strengths and most beloved idiosyncrasies, it’s nowhere near great.
Essential Tracks: “The Rover”, “Flight of Fancy”, and “Stay in Touch”
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