One of the biggest surprises of the year for me, Interpol returned to the realm of indie greatness with El Pintor. Interpol are indie darlings from New York, but they really haven’t done anything great since Antics in 2004.
I almost didn’t give El Pintor much of a shot, most bands don’t wait a full decade between releasing great albums. But this album is great. It’s very much Interpol, at once depressing, arresting, almost fun, and always cool. Lead singer Paul Banks’ baritone voice makes each lyric sound deep and powerful, even if those lyrics don’t make any sense. This is, of course, the guy who wrote “Slow Hands” with lyrics like “We spies/we slow hands/you put the weights around yourself” so maybe we should have given up a decade ago on trying to figure out what he means.
That air of mystery is one thing that keeps Interpol cool despite being around for so long. Even the album title El Pintor is just an anagram of the band name. But I love Interpol, I like to think of them as a more fun version of The National. You can listen to Interpol without feeling worse about the world. Is that a random and unnecessary shot at The National? Yes.