Interpol – Marauder
What Marauder provides is a top-up of Interpol for the band’s most dedicated fans, but nothing that approaches their former glory
No band should have to live in the shadow of their best album, but Interpol’s debut Turn On the Bright Lights towers like a monolith over their entire discography.
Marauder, their sixth record, and first in four years, comes into life significantly blighted by two huge recent cultural events related to their masterpiece: a massive tour playing it in full, and the Lizzy Goodman book Meet Me in the Bathroom, which painstakingly chronicles the early 2000s New York City music scene, when rock'n'roll upstarts like Interpol, The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs rode the tail end of the record industry rocket, just before it crash-landed with the arrival of mass music piracy and the birth of the mp3. Goodman’s interviewees lavish Bright Lights with high praise, further cementing it as one of the great albums of the 21st century.
The reasons for Marauder’s relative failure in comparison are the same for every Interpol record post-Antics. There are some solid pop-rock songs here – The Rover is Interpol 101, all brash sleaze and suave elegance, and the album is bookended by If You Really Love Nothing and It Probably Matters, tracks that could become Interpol canon – and the presence of Dave Fridmann in the producer’s chair lends these songs a heft that the disappointing El Pintor sorely lacked.
Turn On the Bright Lights may be grand and operatic, but while its brooding darkness brilliantly evoked Big Apple skyscrapers on songs like Untitled and Obstacle 1, what made it stick to this day is the beauty it dug out in the devastating sadness that smouldered in the literal gaps in that skyline after 9/11. Only the opening guitar loop of Number 10 on Marauder comes remotely close to the sighing shoegaze of NYC or PDA.
Frontman Paul Banks has said he contributed more autobiographically to Marauder, but his lyrics are, as usual, indistinct. That shouldn’t necessarily be seen as criticism – upon close scrutiny, his words can seem shallow at best and, at worst, problematic.
A press release accompanying the album states that Marauder brings with it a sense of reckoning. A reckoning with what exactly – past deeds, past lives, past albums – is unclear. What Marauder provides is a top-up of Interpol for the band’s most dedicated fans, but nothing that approaches their former glory.
Listen to: If You Really Love Nothing, The Rover, It Probably Matters