El disco rayado: Our Love to Admire
When I listened to Specialist, one of Interpol's first recordings with Matador Records, their longtime label, I found a sound. The track was part of a messy folder on my computer, containing tracks from the early albums Turn On The Bright Lights (2002) and Antics (2004), as well as pirated rarities and bonus tracks. It cannot be said that it was the first time I heard the folder or the band. For example, I had already read that Paul Banks was compared to Jim Morrison; And he had already protested because how someone, listening to Interpol, could think of The Doors and the Lizard King before Joy Division and Ian Curtis. But it was listening to Specialist when I picked up the group's fingerprint and registered it in the database of my private sound library.
Finding a sound is, in terms of joy, like when you found your group of partners after arriving late to the concert of 50 thousand people, at a time when no one had cell phones (at least not you or your needy skinny). That moment is worth every shitty band you heard before, every contrite hipster, every Lisandro Aristimuño who ―they said ― was going to blow your mind. This is the path of the hearer. Chasing faces in a concert of 50 thousand people, although with an essential difference: you don't know exactly what you are looking for. The music lover will have to grab by the shoulder, turn the stunned stranger to verify that he is not one of his partners. You always know what you are not looking for but have only a pixelated idea of what you are looking for. Until just in the memorable moment of the encounter the image is defined, and that is when we recognize the object as if we had been seeing it all our lives.
Let's think about what the hell is it that makes Interpol sound like Interpol. It is a nice walk, although there will be no answer at the end, because that answer, if there is one, is governed by the rules of spatial geometry, it is expressed in rules that we can only understand half-way - three-quarters, at most. -, where triangle and square will always be pyramid and cube. Anyway, if anyone thinks they find it, keep it to yourself, please don't spoil my story. In the language where the followers of this New York band live, the questions are always more attractive.
We could talk about the voice of Paul Banks, bass of soul, caught in a baritone body. No matter where you are located, it will come from above, or from behind, or from within, but always from where the voices come that people who hear voices come from. If we look closely we will notice that it has the reverb integrated, by default, it came like this. This is why, and because of the actual reverb of guitars, there is little white space on Interpol's sound canvas. This is not the music you want to hear when your head hurts. It is a Mudejar wall: there is a lot of information in just one square meter. When you put your stereo on the beach, the sound will hijack your room, getting into all its nooks and crannies. The landline phone may be disappointed, you are not going to hear shit.
But more than the singer and bandleader, the answer to the question "What makes Interpol sound like Interpol?" it will be on Daniel Kessler's guitar timbre. There must be a lovely story for that sound. This English-born violent man will have already told it in interviews and documentaries suggested by YouTube if we write in our web browser: "Why does Daniel Kessler's guitar sound like this?" That's right, for me, lumpy, badly wounded, which hurts rather than cuts, but neither Safari nor Chrome can be asked for that much; put it like this, they will understand. Or do not put anything in the search engine. Instead, head to the 2:56 minute on Mammoth or the opening riff on All Fired Up and screw in the adjectives of your choice, depending on the day.
It is in Our Love to Admire, the group's third studio album, released in 2007, where Daniel Kessler's guitar ends up achieving its sovereignty, its political and conceptual independence. It is part of the sound community but expresses itself on its own terms. For this reason, mainly, I think that this is the best work of Interpol, superior to Antics, which is, in the same way, superior to their first album. Listen to me well. If you are making a well-filtered playlist with the songs of your heart and from an album of 11 songs you choose 10, it is time to save a little and think about getting the physical edition of the album, be it vinyl, CD or cassette. And it is that the band did not stop improving in its first ten years of life, until reaching the crest of the hill with this plate, a terrain that they have not stepped on again.
The guitar riffs in Our Love to Admire have as much hook as the choruses. You hear them even when they're not ringing. That is one of the tricks that, although they had already been used previously (in Length of Love for example, the penultimate track of Antics), were consolidated with the arrival of the new producer Rich Costey and the new label Capitol Records (this is the only official Interpol record outside of Matador Records). Once we get on the riff and settle in, then it will be very difficult to get off. You never really get off, what you do is ride the next one, until the album ends. They, who know their punch well, will always look for a moment, in some corner of the song, to leave Kessler alone executing the riff. An invitation, an arm extended from the vehicle. This happens, to put two examples among several, at the beginning of Pace Is the Trick and, above all, look at me, above all, in The Scale, the piece that breaks me the most of the already extensive Interpol production.
Another novelty that this record brought has to do with the treatment of tempo and silences. I don't know whose idea it was, but the person who thought to tone down the usual gait a bit, and also suggest, let's say, to Paul Banks that on the eighth track, after saying: “Tonight I'm gonna ' rest… ”, he took two coffees and breathed before continuing:“… my chemistry ”, that person should be paying some kind of special royalty right now. I'm not saying that at the height of the third album Interpol has discovered the slowness and pause as resources, but they are used more frequently. This slight relief from the frenzy does not mean at all that the intensity of the band has decreased, although it cannot be said that it has increased or even that it has been maintained with the same amperage. The intensity mutated. It is the thirty-something, an intensity, perhaps, prudent.
I love how the band opens their records. The initial themes, at least in these first three works that I have been referring to, do not carry the intention of shock, they do not seek to shake the listener from the first note. It does not happen like when, in the National Museum of Fine Arts, you enter the room corresponding to the emergence of modern art in Cuba and just open the door and you are in front of La Gitana tropical, and you die from the impact. "There will be time" - they will say.
Note that none of those tracks was released later as a single, nor is it part of the central pieces of their respective phonogram, nor is it performed among the last five at concerts. They are openings that, due to their dramatic properties, could also work perfectly as album closings. And this speaks of the narrative function assigned to them. They are works that, individually, are not capable of capturing a fan; they only show, summon, tempt. One might think that with this practice Interpol sacrifices time and phonographic space, but in reality it is a similar strategy to that used by ice cream vendors, when they give teaspoons to everyone who passes by, to try. Pioneer to The Falls, for example, is a very well crafted formal presentation. It begins with a guitar arpeggio by Daniel Kessler, who is the hostess of the banquet and the one who points out a member of the family with each new turn. You are nervous. Piano. Pleasure. Keyboards. How are you? Voice of Paul Banks. You laugh. Finally, the bass, the second guitar and the drums, which are the fucking cousins, are added in unison. When the protocol ends you are comfortable, relaxed, because you know what it is about. There you are ready to be captured.
Interpol came to me in the same package that also brought a good number of indie bands. Almost all of them sound the same to me now. But they, with Our Love to Admire, paid for membership in my country club. In the guitar solo at the end of The Scale, there is his token.
Carlos M. Mérida
Oidor. Coleccionista sin espacio. Leguleyo. Temeroso de las abejas y de los vientos huracanados.