There are two types of album that seem likely candidates to be expanded, remastered and reissued.
Type one – an album that has already sold millions. Record companies reckon that sufficient audience is there to buy the same album in a new fancy box, with a book, some extra songs (if you’re lucky), maybe some demos or a DVD.
Type two – legacy albums. Albums that are cherished by obsessive fans and collectors, held up as significant, important, seminal pieces. These typically get re-issued at milestone anniversaries – 10th Anniversary re-issues are common.
It’s difficult to fit Interpol’s Our Love to Admire into either of those two categories. It sold precious little when released, after its first week peak in the charts. And it’s not exactly an album that was particularly well received so as to be a candidate for its back story or for any interest in how it all came about. Almost equally puzzling is that Our Love to Admire is the band’s third album, yet only its second to get the re-release treatment after their debut was re-issued in 2012. Where is the 10th Anniversary version of 2004’s Antics? We are still waiting.
Perhaps, though, all along, Interpol or their record company had great certainty in the quality of this album and bided their time so that a re-issue was an apt move, inviting re-examination of the 11 tracks, therein. Whether that is true or not, whether by design or by accident, this release is something of a revelation.
Before I sat down to review this album the memory of being disappointed by it in 2007 loomed into view. I was almost relishing the opportunity to whack a 4 out of 10 score on it, describing the dreariness of it all outside of the magnificent lead single The Heinrich Maneuver. It’s no …Bright Lights but it’s certainly better than many people had given it credit for 10 years ago.
Bringing in new producer Rich Costey had a minimal overall effect although the sound pallet widened and the bass feels flimsier than on the first two albums. The dissonance still breaks through several times, enough to satisfy old fans, you would assume. Second single, ‘Mammoth‘ is the sound of an urgent R.E.M being covered by Joy Division boasting a strident chorus. The already mentioned ‘Heinrich Manoeuvre’ is muscular and pervasive. The closing ‘Lighthouse‘ breaks out truly new pastures for Interpol. Screeds of hastily strummed spaghetti western guitars mark time until some distant high-noon bells chime in to bring the mood to a close. The final phase of the song is unexpectedly poignant and an ethereal finish to the album. It is surely a contender for best song here that wasn’t a single.. If you can get past the dirgy opener ‘Pioneer To The Falls‘, Our Love to Admire in general benefits from good sequencing. While the singles are all in the first half, there are plenty of compelling vocal hooks later in the album – most obviously on ‘What Do You Think?‘ and ‘Pace is the Trick‘.
For a band sometimes accused as working within established post-punk parameters, there may even be influence at play here. The bare guitar passages of ‘…Trick‘ and ‘Wrecking Ball‘ seem to prefigure the intimacy of The XX by 2 years.
Maybe it was a symptom of unfortunate timing that this album fell through the cracks in 2007. Since Antics’ release, there had been a swing back towards British guitar music in the period ’04 to ’06 and Editors had arrived to eclipse some of Interpol’s more fickle fan base. Or maybe two Interpol albums were as much as anyone needed. In any case there’s worthy material here for anyone willing to invest some time if they approach with an open mind.
The 10th anniversary edition of Our Love To Admire is out now on UMC.