Or, Joy Division Are So 2002. All the Cool Kids Listen to Bands That Sound Like Daft Punk in 2007.
Turns out I was wrong. Interpol don’t have a free pass from the critics after all. After receiving largely positive reviews on their first two albums: Turn on the Bright Lights and Antics, Interpol fatigue has set in, as writers for notable publications like Pitchfork, Popmatters, and Stylus penned rather dismissive (and in some cases rather harsh) reviews of Our Love to Admire.
So how did Interpol fall from the indie rock penthouse to the indie rock outhouse in one album? According to Ryan Dombel for Pitchfork, the major label budget may have been their down fall, ” With cleaner production and an arsenal of instruments at their disposal, the group indulges, and the songs often suffer.”
Matt Mazur for Popmatters also cites big budget production in his criticism, “Our Love to Admire is a musical cousin to the recently-released White Stripes’ cd, The Icky Stump: a safe, slick, and shamelessly mediocre retread with a couple of decent songs on it.” Although neither Mazur, nor Dombel say it explicitly, there are the nagging undertones that Interpol has sold out. Mazur comes the closest to uttering the words “sell out” when he writes, “Don’t let them (Interpol) fool you with all of those black suits and mopey looks, these boys want to conquer the MTV.” It’s not quite the same level of spite that was used during the past decade where we (fans and critics alike) helped hasten the demise of more than one band, but it’s close.
If Popmatters and Pitchfork laid the groundwork for establishing Interpol fatigue, then Alfred Soto of Stylus certainly finished the job. You’ll be hard pressed to find any actual criticism of their music. Instead, Soto chooses to focus on their fashion (comparing them to Durran Durran) and the passion of Interpol’s fans (Springsteenian in nature where the boys want to be them and the girls want to be with them). His review could have been edited down to one succinct sentence, “God, I’m so sick of Interpol.”
Surprisingly, the most telling statement on why Interpol’s Our Love to Admire is falling flat with some critics comes from Marc Hogan and his review not for Interpol, but for the band Digitalism:
It’s funny how casually some dudes still dismiss the house-rock hybrids filed under stupid but catchy genre tags “nu rave” and “blog house”. Especially since acclaimed outfits like Soulwax, the DFA, Teifschwarz, and Vitalic– not to mention the entire electroclash scene– have already for years propagated some of the same ideas now championed by Daft Punk-loving dance labels Kitsuné and Ed Banger. This shit isn’t supposed to be novel, just really fucking good.
Now, compare that quote with one regarding Interpol’s debut. This one is from Colin McElligatt’s Stylus review for Turn on The Bright Lights:
No, Turn On The Bright Lights is not the breakthrough album of our time– it’s not even the best of the year (the band manages to under reach their ambitions on the one-sided “Obstacle 2” and “Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down”). And no, they’re not taking music in any new directions. But what they are doing is sparking a renewed interest in some of the greatest band and recordings of our time, and making one hell of a good racket while doing so.
Tastes change. It’s a simple fact. Five years ago it didn’t matter that Interpol sounded so much like Joy Division, now, all of a sudden, it does matter. Joy Division are so 2002. We’ve all moved on to bands that sound like Daft Punk.
I sure hope you’re reading this Justice. You guys better tour your a**es off, and sell plenty of adverts and t-shirts. Five years from now it will no longer be good enough that you sound like Daft Punk as those critics that fanned the flames of your popularity will turn on you as quickly as they turned on Interpol. No one will want to listen to another Daft Punk when they could be listening to the next Soundgarden.