Party like it's 2006! New Interpol and Blonde Redhead albums streaming at NPR
Interpol and Blonde Redhead are two bands that would absolutely have to be on the soundtrack to any film made of my life (of which the soundtrack would be the only redemptive document, sadly).
I first discovered Interpol when I was moving to Sweden. I'd picked up a British music magazine (MOJO? I can't remember now) that included "NYC" on a "new music" sampler. One of my really distinct memories of being 18 is smoking a cigarette under the train tracks in Kärrtorp and listening to that track on repeat the night I arrived in the city that would be my home for the next four years. (Turn on the Bright Lights would become one of my favorite albums soon thereafter, and Antics would surpass it a few years later.) Blonde Redhead wouldn't find their way into my life until six years after that night, when a friend burned a copy of Misery is a Butterfly for me. (And if I'm being honest, it wasn't until 23 that I completely fell for the band.)
Both bands have been noticeably absent since 2010—Interpol going quiet after releasing their self-titled, and in my opinion weakest, album, and Blonde Redhead after the inconsistent, but rewarding Penny Sparkle. Unsurprisingly, at first I was more excited to learn of a new Blonde Redhead album than I was that Interpol were getting back in the saddle, but I'm not too proud to admit to being wrong.
The first two singles from El Pintor (see what they did there?!) have both been brilliant, with "All the Rage Back Home" easily qualifying as one of my favorite Interpol songs. "Ancient Ways" isn't exactly a slouch, either, recalling And the Glass Handed Kites-era Mew, which if you know me is rather high praise. At least on a first listen, I have not been disappointed by El Pintor in the least. It's nice to see a band that played such a formative role in my life find their old form again, a feat which Bloc Party sadly never quite achieved. (That said, I was truly intrigued by "French Exit" off last year'sThe Nextwave Sessions EP, and I hope if Bloc Party ever roll the dice again they can once again find a way back towards their original sound.)
Blonde Redhead's upcoming Barragán feels similarly strong, especially the track "Dripping," though perhaps not quite in the same way the El Pintor does. Where Interpol seem to have produced an album that may be able to vie for second place in their catalogue, Blonde Redhead have not—that said, it isn't exactly easy stacking up against Misery is a Butterfly and 23, and Barragán deserves to be heard a few more times before I render any serious verdict on whether it's "really, really good" or "fantastic."
But enough nattering from me, make up your own minds!