Interpol’s Marauder is a tour de force

Interpol’s latest album “Marauder,” their first since 2014’s “El Pintor,” is a fantastic record that showcases what the trio does best. The album came out while the band toured in honor of the 15th anniversary of their classic debut album “Turn on the Bright Lights.” The band could easily rest on its laurels and attempt to just walk the path they already made in music. The band enlisted producer David Fridman, most known for his work with the Flaming Lips, for their sixth album. Fridman’s presence marks the first time in over ten years that the trio has had an outsider behind the boards, and the new perspective shows in some of their most vital music yet.   

Guitarist Daniel Kessler’s performance is a highlight of the entire album. His guitar work provides the bedrock for much of the music on the 44 minute record. His jagged melodic lines on the lead single “The Rover” immediately sets the tone for the energetic track to follow. Drummer Sam Fogarino and singer and bassist Paul Banks create a looping groove that immediately lodges itself in the listener’s ear. Around this basic rhythm, they add different textures throughout, continually inserting waves of distortion and guitar phrases.

Lyrically Banks, describes the character of “the rover” a traveling charismatic cult leader. Banks’ lyrics are abstract and difficult to decipher, fitting the mad, demented character he inhabits perfectly.

“Complications” much like “The Rover” begins with a great guitar introduction. Here, however, the groove has more space. There are fewer waves of distortion, with a more relaxed energy replacing the frenetic insanity of “The Rover”—a musical reflection of the lyrical differences between the two pieces.  

Interpol takes advantage of the extra time on “Complications”  by filling in the space between the staccato rhythmic chord stabs with tasteful guitar lines. The band takes a break after the second chorus for a bridge repeating the refrain “sliding up the street.” The trio uses this opportunity to deconstruct the groove. They remove every instrument except for one guitar and a simple hi-hat figure before bringing all the instruments back together again. This sudden shift from a quiet, sparse figure to a full, heavy sound feels like a freight train barging through a sleepy suburb.

Despite these highlights, and the fantastic tunes the band sprinkles throughout the album, “Marauder” could have benefited from some quality control. The two ambient interludes feel like lethargic apperictions on the exciting road trip the group is taking the listener on. They add nothing to the tracks that precede and follow them, and do not work well on their own.  For most of “Marauder,” Interpol is locked in with a raw vibrant sound that hits more than it misses.

4 out of 5