Returning to the beginning

Returning to the beginning
Singer Karen O strikes out on her own in her debut solo album Crush Songs.

In 2002, American indie rockers Interpol released Turn On The Bright Lights, the acclaimed debut album that made them overnight indie darlings.

With Paul Banks' monotone vocals that channelled Joy Division's Ian Curtis, and layered guitarwork that built an atmosphere of a dark, brooding romance, Interpol's music became the choice du jour of indie cool.

Their strong musical identity continued to shine in their second album, Antics (2004).

But somewhere after their third LP, Our Love To Admire (2007), the band started to lose their indie mojo, and by the time of their eponymous fourth LP (2010), they were pretty much irrelevant, with bassist Carlos Dengler quitting shortly after.

El Pintor, whose title serves as both an anagram for Interpol and a Spanish translation for "the painter", marks a return to form for the band, even without Dengler's killer basslines.

From the attention-grabbing album opener All The Rage Back Home to the twangy guitar anthem My Blue Supreme, they return to the familiar song structure that has worked so well for them in the past: strong melodies with a change in the guitar riffs mid-song to add a new dimension and emphasise the emotion behind the song.

While the album does not offer any bass-driven gems in the league of hits such as Evil and Public Pervert, the music delivers on what Interpol are known for - making loneliness and despair sound effortlessly graceful and cool.

Whereas Turn On The Bright Lights told the story of a diver named Stella who was always down (on the song Stella Was A Diver And She's Always Down), El Pintor tells you how Stella got her groove back.

Low fidelity equals high sincerity - that is the axiom driving some musicians of late.

In an era of the clearest, shiniest, sharpest everything, going lo-fi is the best revenge. This could be witnessed in the curious resurgence of the cassette tape, that old plastic contraption with its messy, breakable film reel.

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