If you’re Interpol, you must be hearing the words “return to form” a great deal these days. You’ve played the major label game, and retreated back to your original indie home, Matador Records. You lost your iconic bass player, and have struggled to prove you’re still the same band fans fell in love with on 2002’s Turn On the Bright Lights. Your last album was easily your most disappointing, and you're out to prove that you've still "got it," whatever that "it" may be.
In this sense, El Pintor (out today, Sept. 9, on Matador) fits the “return to form” bill. Interpol is still doing Interpol, and for the diehards, that’s just fine. Drop a rockin' lead single like “All the Rage Back Home,” and there’s reason to get amped for an upcoming tour, rock out to “Slow Hands” again, or invite the band to the New York Met to play a very special show among 2,000-year-old ruins.
Frontman Paul Banks still sings like Paul Banks. He still writes eerie, distorted guitar lines that careen into those of bandmate Daniel Kessler. And now that he’s picked up the departed Carlos Dengler’s bass duties, Interpol’s guitar attack is almost predictable in its lack of predictability. Drummer Sam Fogarino could school legions of novice alt-rock drummers in establishing an off-kilter groove; backing Banks and Kessler, he sounds as comfortable as ever.