Indie rock stalwarts Interpol returned to the scene earlier this year with a fantastic new LP, El Pintor, ten tracks of ageless Interpol mastery, heavy on the guitar hooks and light on filler. After a brief foray on a major label with 2007's impossibly underrated Our Love To Admire, tumultuous band relations led to a darker shade of wandering for the band on their 2010 self-titled fourth record. But with some time apart and a new live lineup to boot, critics and fans alike saw El Pintor as a more than welcome return to form. It's not that Interpol was necessary a bad record - rather, the negative energy surrounding its recording suppressed the one fact of Interpol's music that we've loved from the beginning: unrelenting passion. I mean you know there's passion involved when Paul Banks can sing "Her stories and boring and stuff" and it puts goosebumps on your arms. That passion - the same one we loved so dearly on Antics and Our Love To Admire as well - is the one that returns without remorse on El Pintor.If, for some reason, you failed to check out El Pintor upon release, Interpol's current tour in support of the record should shock you back into your senses. The band packed the Paramount Theater last Tuesday night for a fantastic set, heavy on the new record but with plenty of fan favorite material along with it. Together with Mexico City synth rock band Rey Pila, Interpol brought all the rage back home to Seattle front and center.
The sounds of the 80s live on incessantly in Latin America. Look at tour rosters for New Order, the Cure, Moz, and others, and a full Latin American tour is bound to have either happened six months prior or will happen six months from now. So it's really only fitting that bands like Mexico City's Rey Pila take the sound back to the big stages in grandiose fashion. Mixing the sounds of Roxy Music, Simple Minds, and maybe a touch of the Strokes (the band is currently signed to Julian Casablancas's own Cult Records), Rey Pila make great new wave for a new generation of fans. Close your eyes and at times, you could mistake lead singer Diego Soloranzo for Jim Kerr, with his booming voice dominating the airwaves above bright guitars and sultry synthesizer lines. The band showed off much material from their upcoming debut record, including the stellar "Alexander", previously released as a 7" on Cult. Rey Pila opened up the evening with energetic vibes and some nostalgic 80s sounds.
After the chaotic praise subsided and Interpol donned their instruments in the beautiful glow of blue light, they opened the evening with El Pintor halfway point "My Blue Supreme". As the slow jam burned forward with Daniel Kessler and Paul Banks interweaving guitar parts to back Paul's cool falsetto, you couldn't help but smile. Tonight was the second appearance of "My Blue Supreme" on the El Pintor tour thus far, as the song was just introduced to the setlist the night before in Vancouver, where it was played 3/4 of the way through the set. While the track is indeed a great song, it's hardly the kind of bombastic opener you'd expect from a packed out rock show in a massive venue. But that's Interpol for you, the band that opened their first record with a song called "Untitled" and write songs like "Public Pervert" and "No I in Threesome" that have nothing to do with sex - they have never been one to the follow the textbook along chapter by chapter. And even here now, as the song fades and applause explodes and Banks smiles and nods under a Panama hat before tour bassist Brad Truax (formerly of Spiritualized) busted into the "Evil" intro, you can still feel the mischief in Interpol's step. It's a playfulness that any other band would fail miserably at attempting.
After the Antics double header of "Evil" and "C'mere", Interpol dropped Turn Off The Bright Lights classic "Hands Away" before starting in epic El Pintor track "My Desire". Here especially, we heard in full form how massive pieces of the new record sound. Sure, the classic mixture of guitar tone and grooving bass lines is back on El Pintor, but carried forth with it is a larger, expansive sound the band toyed with on 2010's Interpol but only now have really perfected. "My Desire" showed that off wonderfully, with drummer Sam Fogarino pounding out an epic drum line the close the five and a half minute track, which felt like an eternity among the sea of short, punchy Interpol classics. The El Pintor favorite for the night had to be "Breaker 1", though. On the album, the track has a very Our Love To Admire air of mystery about it, but live, the mystery turns to relentless yearning across a barren sea. Plus, after the calamity of the waves subsided, Kessler followed with a massive reverb and guitar tremolo that every fan recognized on impact - Our Love closer "The Lighthouse". The Paramount went dead silent as Banks and Kessler made the track come alive in the auditorium before a brutal closing. Our only Our Love offering for the night, Interpol made "The Lighthouse" count.
More material off of the new record including lead single "Anywhere" followed, accompanied by plenty more off Antics before Interpol closed their main set with "Slow Hands" and exited briefly. Upon return, the band silenced every critic of their fourth record with a blistering rendition of "Lights" that made for one of the best cuts of the night. Upwards of six minutes in length, the track was one ceaseless wave of energy, accompanied by a blinding strobe to match the brutality of the guitar. By the time "Lights" ended, the crowd had to catch their breath before "All The Rage Back Home" had the entirety of the Paramount singing along. Finally, exiting with debut classic "PDA", Interpol bid Seattle good night.
It is fantastic to hear Interpol return to the stage with confidence. Watching the band, seeing Kessler and Banks interact seamlessly, relying heavily on the weight of brand new material to guide the night's energy forward, it just goes to prove how Interpol continue to follow their muses towards a bright light that the rest of us are blind to. But the insight is welcome every single time, and with another album down, Banks and the Interpol crew give us another batch of songs to shout into the void with reckless disregard for the demons lurking there. An embodiment of the proclamation set forth by El Pintor cut "Ancient Ways", Interpol crusade onwards in 2014 with as much fervor today as they've ever had, and we can't wait until they return.
Interpol's fifth album, El Pintor, is out now on Matador.
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