It’s been 16 years since Interpol released their celebrated debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, and judging from their latest record, it seems a few of those lights may need replacing. Much of Marauder, the group’s sixth full-length, is “Interpol by Numbers”: a little understated guitar here, a stabby, Peter Hooky bass line there and plenty of frontman Paul Banks’ vigorously oblique declarations of frustration and feeling empty inside. And because Banks’ signature is barking in near-monotonous rhythms, a bit like musical Morse code, a lot of the group’s heavy lifting is left up to his guitar and bass (he plays both on the album), Daniel Kessler’s guitar and Samuel Fogarino’s drumming. So when there are somewhat revelatory moments, it usually comes down to the music.
Amid the Maurader’s bitterness – set to skanking reggae on “Complications,” PiL-like guitar lines in “Flight of Fancy” and military drum exercises on “Party’s Over” – Interpol sound best when they step far outside of their wheelhouse. “Mountain Child” is a catchy ode to trying to get in touch with your inner enfant sauvage, and the album’s closing confession, “It Probably Matters” is a poppy, jazzy number on which Banks reconciles his shitty attitude toward faithfulness, inner anger and his own lack of grace. He even sings a bit more on the latter cut. Unfortunately these moments come late on Maurader after so many lesser clones of the same old tricks.