By Indira Walsh (‘19)
Interpol’s new music wades farther from their previous album, El Pintor. While El Pintor was ridged with more complex mixing, Marauder pays dues to Interpol’s wish to return to “minimalism and simplicity”.
Though the album is not political, the cover art of Marauder shows Elliot Richardson, the former U.S. Attorney General who stood up to Richard Nixon - perhaps offering a contemplation of and comparison to historic swaying of the masses.
Paul Banks, lead singer of Interpol, said in an Independent UK article that in terms of choosing the photo of Richardson, he was attracted to “the fact it has these beautiful, political overtones… there are lots of layers… There’s the fact he’s sort of a hero because he refused to be bullied into going against his personal principles. Based on my writing, I like the isolation of the individual in that photo, that shot implies great strength but there’s a vulnerability too.”
The 13-track album includes three singles, “If You Really Love Nothing”, “Number 10” and “The Rover”.
Banks said Marauder’s lyrics stem from a character who exists in “the portion of your personality that isn’t really concerned with accountability and just kind of does… it’s representative of a persona that’s best left in song. In a way, this album is like giving him a name and putting him to bed.”
Marauder does as he pleases, but not without repercussion. The character of the single, “If You Really Love Nothing”, is confused as to why a person around him professes to care about nothing even though they still cling to idealism. The confusion felt by the narrator causes him to end up alone - he says goodbye to the relationship he had “bled [his] whole life” for.
“If You Really Love Nothing” is said to echo some of the same themes as “Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down”, a song from Interpol’s 2002 album.
Banks said, “[If You Really Love Nothing] has some of my favorite lyrics: “If you really love nothing, everybody’s made up, everybody’s losing.” It’s a similar sentiment as expressed by ‘Stella.’ The building fronts are just fronts. Both songs, I suppose, center around a narrator who is perplexed by a woman with unwieldy psychological pathologies involving paranoia and dissociation. This song, like ‘Stella,”’ suggests the narrator gives up on this woman ultimately.” Marauder additionally does not hold any punches while commenting on an affected society. It is clear Interpol has traversed the disengaged mood of previous works in favor of adopting a facet of Bank’s almost malevolent id.
Marauder does not exactly denounce people for being forced to adopt illusions in order to survive society, but it also does not pretend to be in favor of distilling reality.
Of course, what is a commentary on today’s social norms without discussing technology? Interpol dissects social media in “Party’s Over”, claiming that there is no rhyme or reason for keeping up with people’s interests when many of these platforms simply “enhance my bad intentions without containing my sense of wonder”.
Though the band has perhaps passed its golden era, Marauder feels different from their previous music in some incredibly good ways.
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian said that Interpol sounds “noticeably more grownup and expansive, less concerned with asserting their place in an august lineage of angst-ridden alt-rock with Joy Division and the Chameleons. There’s a sunlit buoyancy about the melody of “Surveillance” that would never have been permitted in the austere, nocturnal world conjured up by the Interpol of the early noughties.”
Bank’s voice exudes something intensely personal, and much of Marauder’s lyricism seems to review the inaction of his past. While listening to the last few tracks of the album, it is clear Banks regrets not taking advantage of moments he once had. In the context of an old memory of him at a beach with friends, Banks laments in “It Probably Matters” that he didn’t have the foresight to be faithful to people around him.
However, instead of burying himself in nostalgia, Banks makes it clear in “Surveillance” that he is advancing on in life. “Tired of making sh*t older a touch…There’s still time to change my way.”
While Marauder’s themes are not innovative, the album still manages to be immediate and refreshing, which is quite a feat, because Interpol has always been branded for a nihilism.