Citing new "epic and orchestral" recording methods, Interpol’s third album and major label debut packs a lot of punch but forgoes the flow. With an air of urgency, the four-piece grinds away with dueling guitar parts that dominate the album, and leave the rhythm section gasping to catch up. Our Love To Admire soars to nosebleed heights at times, but lacks a compelling dynamic and often drags under misplaced energy.
What got Interpol to this position in the first place was a vigorous guitar/rhythm balance that spread each part out beautifully. Jagged guitars boosted an attacking bass that seemed to operate independently and drumbeats jutted, rolled, and ultimately justified the guitar style that wasn’t even as complex as it seemed. On Our Love To Admire, though, Daniel Kessler’s and Paul Banks’ guitars downstroke their way around each other endlessly, with a not-so-fresh feeling, and without the background chops to hold them up.
The album opens with a sour pluck on "Pioneer to the Falls" to which drummer Sam Fogarino adds a tired prom-thump beat and Carlos D’s bass meanders unnoticeably. "No I In Threesome" is a piano-based, 70’s-esque ballad with a driving, yet monotonous rhythm while Banks’ vocals lulls in a half-shout. Guitars wearily jab on "The Scale" in a difficult, slow motion – and that’s the highlight. The opening segment of the album is still just getting dressed for the party.
Thankfully, Interpol turns the speed up on "The Heinrich Maneuver", the edgy single with a slithering grunge guitar riff and drums that reach their most dynamic point on the album. D’s bass still just hides in the background though. On "Mammoth", they gallop on a slapping rhythm and static guitar that’s dense but grating by the end. "Pace is the Trick", the most charismatic track on the album begins with a somber guitar/vocal interplay and builds into a cautionary ballad with Banks’ most significant vocals. These are easily the strongest section of Our Love To Admire.
The album struggles, unfortunately, when the fake clap track on "All Fired Up" merely fills up time while guitars swerve and drums pound the over-used rhythm into the ground. "Rest My Chemistry" is a dark ballroom croon stuck in a slow pace, while "Who Do You Think?" is a poor copy of "The Heinrich Maneuver". "Wrecking Ball" is one of their most ethereal tracks to date, with echoed guitars and distant vocals interspersed. "The Lighthouse" is a shrouded crawler that ends Our Love To Admire with a fluttering whimper. The last third of the album is deflating like on a lot of lackluster, major label albums.
Our Love To Admire is indeed an admirable effort, but ultimately disappoints because of stagnant guitar overload and the disappearance of the scene-driving ethos from their damaged, poetic delivery. Throughout the album, Banks’ vocals are less compelling than ever, and the band seems to be lost in reproducing a "progressive" version of themselves. The spiked dynamic that made Interpol important has been smoothed over and lost in their development. As such, it is a decent sound, but ever closer to drowning in its own relevance.