Interpol stand tall among the New York guitar acts that blew up in the early 2000s, back when rock fans watched bands through plumes of cigarette smoke instead of through phones. They hit the ground running with two classics of night-prowling melodrama – 2002’s Turn on the Bright Lights and 2004’s Antics. El Pintor is their first in four years, as well as their first without bassist/fashion plate/holster model Carlos D. But Interpol still have a masterful touch with their lavishly romantic guitar fantasies: Daniel Kessler rings the chimes in his six-string cathedral, while Paul Banks rounds up another album’s worth of miserable ladies to sing about.
The mix on El Pintor is a synth-heavy wall of reverb, which means Banks often sounds like he’s singing from inside an ice chamber. Yet there’s no missing the excellence of songs like “Anywhere,” “My Desire” or the metallic “Ancient Ways,” which sounds like an oblique answer to Rush’s 2112. (“Fuck the ancient ways,” indeed.) But if any song sums up what makes El Pintor great, it has to be “My Blue Supreme,” one of Interpol’s best ever: an atmospheric meditation on depression (“This kind of shit don’t heal in a week”) and the healing power of guitars.