Ack, I mean can somebody please tell Paul Banks he’s ROMANTIC enough already? It’s like bruh, we get that you really care about your precious girlfriend… you can stop writing these whiny “love songs” like “Flight of Fancy” which plagues the middle section of Marauder with the same ennui which I think has leveled this band in many ways their whole career, Turn on the Bright Lights (2002) notwithstanding (which amusingly enough also came out in late August).
So it’s as simple as this: it’s on a primal, gut level that I appreciate this band so much and its inimitable frontman (Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand forming an ARGUABLE parallel in some ways) and it’s on a primal, gut level that I get so nauseated with this stuff that I feel like throwing a bottle at him (they’re probably wise not to play shows in Indiana, as it were). I mean on one hand, we have Banks’ entranced mantra of “Sidlin’ up the street”, this being possibly the first ever reference to “sidling” in rock, that term typically reserved for the show Seinfeld, Interpol’s fellow New Yorkers.
This is how Banks projects himself onto the wax with such sureness. We get back to the old debate about whether lyrics in rock matter or not (Kurt Cobain said they didn’t but he also pled pretty hard for us to rape him, that’s for sure)… I believe they matter insofar as they represent something that the artist has felt as a sort of revelation, which is aligned with the music he or she’s got along.
Obviously, then, we could open up a debate about whether rock matters, or whether music itself matters. It’s all pretty subjective. In light of all the artistic disaffection from which we’re apparently suffering these days, it certainly looks more and more like Kurt Cobain presaged the 2018 condition. But what Banks does in the latter half of “Complications” is to by relatively little information, proficiently paint a picture in our minds of his world, which is ultimately relayed to us firmly as if it were direct and cinematic. This is what makes “Complications” great.
Album leadoff “If You Really Love Nothing” plays as full-blown, voluminous indie rock we’ve come to relish from this Big Apple trio (Marauder does indeed issue on the self-owned Matador… play on words???), swaggering along in six-eight just about the tempo of Hot Hot Heat’s “Pulling Levers” but darker and more esoteric, if not to necessarily say better or catchier. “The Rover,” then, which awesomely takes the second slot on the album just like Led Zeppelin’s stomper of the same name, earmarks a commendable clinic in rhythm on the part of drummer Sam Fogarino (the primary random, probably meaningless observation here of course being that like their New York cohorts The Strokes they have an Italian drummer), who plays like he has about seven arms, pummeling the snare on every other beat instead of every fourth, and jibing with the band on refreshing little one-bar annexes, which signify tiny breathers before recourse back into the organic bash-it-out rock. Interpol’s groove on “The Rover” is a model for myriad bands with rapt ears, Daniel Kessler’s lead guitar stabs stalking Fogarino’s closed-hat racket with a preternatural tenacity, Banks’ fuzzed-out bass doing the sonic damage underneath it all. Indeed, this is arguably the fullest sounding trio you’ll hear this year, many props to Dave Fridmann on a mix that’s clear and full, but never shrill and overwhelming.
During side b of this album I sort of got a similar sense to what I gathered with The National’s album of last year: that all the songs are pretty similar to each other, but the band is so good at what it does, has such an established niche and m.o. about it, that you’re not likely to complain. Just today I have to admit I was sort of reminiscing the good ol’ days thinking that nobody these days has a sense of humor anymore like the Talking Heads did with “Found a Job” (apparently I’m retarded and forgot about St. Vincent’s “Pills” and The National’s “Turtleneck”). Sure enough, here chime Interpol in with track 10 which goes by the name of “Number 10,” and I never thought I’d be saying this but I’ll take this as enough solace that ANY actual humanness is going into any music these days, the idea that again, there is no objective “quality,” it’s about telling the world who you are, which is always ultimately going to be imperfect. “Number 10” opens with this really awesome, sort of crystalline and fragile electric guitar sound akin kind of to some of the work on No Age’s Snares Like a Haircut from this year and I thought at first hopefully that the song was going to be an instrumental, but again, they just rock out with such purpose that this whole LP is sure to play as some worthy backdrop cathartic “cool” for many people over the course of the next months or years, the similarities of these songs to each other perhaps even lending itself to this era of streaming today.