Music Reviews

Interpol Marauder

(Matador) Rating - 7/10

Interpol are not a group this reviewer professes to know a great deal about. Beyond the signature tracks and seeing them support Coldplay at Crystal Palace back in 2005, I didn't hop on to the freight train that has become their fan base. Nonetheless, having several acquaintances very much on board has encouraged me to review their sixth long player, Marauder. What becomes apparent to this novice very quickly is the group have a sound that works and have honed it expertly.

The guitars of Daniel Kessler and Paul Banks jangle and jostle for space, while drummer Sam Fogarino skitters, marches and lumbers with an unsteady charm through the thirteen tracks we get here. Striking through the heart of the mix is Paul Banks's vocal delivery; a steadying influence on proceedings, if not lyrically speaking, then certainly in meter. Throughout Marauder, all the signposts to their success are highlighted – opener If You Really Love Nothing hits its unsteady stride on all these counts immediately, the lyrics “shall we stay inside and worry” lighting the touch paper on a claustrophobic forward motion accented seamlessly by a whirling-picked guitar line and marching drums, the whole thing feeling like it could tremble and topple over at any time.

Following this, The Rover works particularly well in its number two slot, with an almost nightmarish nursery rhyme guitar line propelling the track into a solid chorus; its melody lurks hauntingly throughout the runtime. The atmosphere created is maddening, particularly with a vocal coda that goes heavy on the reverb, another sound which it becomes clear is a bit of a signature. Flight Of Fancy is probably the best track on the record for combining all the best elements of their sound: foreboding lyrics leading into a repeated coda, a drum pattern that lurches on the edges of its seat as its high hats open, and guitars that chime and stab alternately to the finish. In this regard, NYSMAW also confidently strikes a lot of these boxes – the guitar line introduces itself somewhat discordantly before developing into a fuller, more melodic chord structure with its chorus (“Give me the oversight inside the other, give me the oversight inside the fantasy”) creating an intriguing and instantly satisfying vocal hook.

Where Interpol's carefully-built sound doesn't click for me, though, is how it over-spills the balance on claustrophobia. Party's Over feels too heavy on the gain and the lyrics and vocals get lost in these moments, and Mountain Child passes on through without really registering on a musical level. That said, I'm not entirely sure the Interlude tracks that breakwater the album really work, either; they are almost too different to everything else that's going on – the second one in particular drops you in Blade Runner for a minute before setting us back off with their trademark sound, and it feels more jarring than it should.

Somewhere out there, a happy world exists between the two of these tracks – it might have been fun to hear some of these with a section or two like this as part of the whole arrangement. That happy world might just be being approached on Number 10. Hammer-ons and pull-offs on a lone guitar open the song atmospherically before the full band crashes in with urgency and another rollicking chorus, followed up with a melodic tail before the group falls out as one on a single cymbal choke. This is the most diverse arrangement on the record, and a couple more of these would have pushed the album even further. Nonetheless, Marauder is a solid record with several decent tracks that will make it a welcome addition to the group's discography.