It’s a little surprising that the thrust of post-punk throwback bands has lasted as long as it has, but really, it’s a simple fact that a huge faction of music fans make decisions based on what they can and can’t dance to. That tight, danceable sound that people just love to call “angular”— that is, the kind that draws entirely on dark, early post-punk — has been pretty much the default in indie rock for over five years now. Interpol’s received plenty of both credit and flack for kick-starting the resurgence, and they’ve hung on even as it continues to putter out. Now, it’s becoming easier to look at them as a bunch of musicians rather than a bunch of trendsetters. Which is a shame, because musically, they don’t have much to offer.
Interpol’s still capable of putting out a solid dance-rock single — on this new album, it’s the functional ‘Heinrich Maneuver’ — but they’ve typecast themselves by playing into that same vibe too many times. Their first album, 2002’s Turn on the Bright Lights, was surprisingly varied: some songs dealt in slower tempos or clean, undistorted guitar tones, and the untitled opening track was clearly a written-in-the-practice-room jam that coincidentally made for a light, atmospheric start. But when the single ‘PDA’ caught on and spawned a legion of followers, Interpol began to sound like imitators of themselves: 2004’s Antics is heavier on dark, dance-rock tracks, and there are only a couple of tracks on Our Love to Admire that aren’t built to fit that predictable template.
It’s ironic, because what made Interpol the least bit interesting in the first place wasn’t that they sounded like Joy Division; it was that they sounded fresh. The influences were obvious, but moreover, there was the feeling that they were a young band with the motivation to experiment — which is exactly what they didn’t do. Instead, they played along with all the other new bands copping beats from the same bygone era, and now the very sound they popularized is starting to feel dated — again.