While riding the bus downtown for Interpol’s concert at The Paramount, I struck up a conversation with a fellow commuter headed to the same show. I asked him what he thought of the indisputably classy rock group’s new album, “El Pintor,” the band’s first in four years.
“It’s growing on me,” he replied.
Outside the theater after the show, he mentioned that lead singer Paul Banks’ voice is like another instrumental melody, blending in with the instrumentation more than ever before.
That fan had it exactly right. Interpol played a significant number of newer cuts, each accompanied by mind-bending, mostly black-and-white visual projections. Banks’ voice, so crisp and commanding when Interpol played classics like “Evil” and “Slow Hands” that night, became more mercurial. His lyrics were less discernable, taking on a reverb-heavy shoegaze aesthetic. It was a subtly different direction for a band so heavily influenced by the post-punk tradition, which incorporates so much lyrical emphasis.
But it worked very well juxtaposed with the diverse sampler of classics mixed into the set. Tracks like the manic single “All the Rage Back Home” and poppy, jam-heavy “My Desire” revealed the mettle of the band as it expanded on a sound that is instantly recognizable to most indie rock fans.
The venue, far from packed, was nevertheless a perfect choice for the Interpol. The articulate, college-educated Banks, always dressed to the nines, seemed perfectly at home in the palatial hall in his dark suit and white fedora.
Mexico City band Rey Pila (they sang in English) provided one of the more impressive opening sets in recent memory. They blended Post Punk with New Wave, falling somewhere between Depeche Mode and Arcade Fire.