© 2022
1078x200-header-mic.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

First Listen: Interpol, 'El Pintor'

Interpol's new album, <em>El Pintor</em>, comes out on Sept. 9.
Courtesy of the artist
Interpol's new album, El Pintor, comes out on Sept. 9.

Interpol once seemed like a candidate for a quick post-debut flameout. Its 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, broke through with seemingly instantaneous intensity, setting the band up for an equally ferocious second-album letdown. So many bands in its fickle New York scene were playing a variation on Interpol's sleek, stylish, darkly driving post-punk that success was bound to be difficult to sustain.

And yet here's the band, back a dozen years later, on the eve of a heavily anticipated fifth album. El Pintor follows a tumultuous four-year gap, during which Interpol toured with U2, went on hiatus, and saw bassist Carlos Dengler leave for good while singer Paul Banks released two solo records (one under the pseudonym Julian Plenti). Thankfully, the resulting album wears turmoil well: Interpol has aged into its polished sound nicely, maintaining its influences — Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, et al — while sounding more distinct from them than ever.

Interpol often tiptoes on the fine line separating consistency from sameness. El Pintor treads that same line, but keeps finding Interpol on its better side. Twelve years after its debut, it's a band that knows what it wants to be — and, just as importantly, knows how to get there every time.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tags
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)