Trio of indie rock groups shimmer in new releases
Interpol — ‘Marauder’
THE GOOD: New York City indie rock group Interpol comes back with a semi-blazing sixth.
THE BAD: “Marauder” is the band’s best record in a decade, but it doesn’t come close to the quiet power of its first two ground-breaking masterpieces — “Turn on the Bright Lights” (2002) and “Antics” (2004).
THE NITTY GRITTY: Of course, those records were released when Interpol was an integral part of a New York indie revival/revolution that also included the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Walkmen and a host of others. Today, Interpol isn’t part of any scene in particular, unless there’s a specific category for survivors.
This time, the band hired Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, MGMT) to produce, and he guides the boys through a set that’s more straight-forward and up-tempo than usual. The record lacks in murky, moody pieces such as the classic “NYC.” So the worst you could accuse “Marauder” of being is slightly one-dimensional. But the songwriting is sharp, and the guys are tight. Nicely done.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Death Cab for Cutie — ‘Thank You for Today’
THE GOOD: Northwest indie rock group Death Cab for Cutie comes back with its ninth.
THE BAD: This is the band’s first full-length album without guitarist/producer Chris Walla. His presence is missed, but his absence is not entirely detrimental.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Rich Costey (Muse, Foster the People, Frank Turner) handles production duties, putting a definite sheen on most tracks. Frontman Ben Gibbard wrote about 90 percent of the record. One detects a delicate, rhythmic influence held over from his Postal Service days spread underneath many of the tunes.
So “Thank You” ends up both ever-so-slightly beat-driven AND dreamy, with the songs gently wrapping their sweet melodies (some of Gibbard’s finest this decade) around the listener. There’s a mid-tempo warmth to cuts such as “When We Drive” and “You Moved Away.” Yet the songs also bring on that Northwest DCFC chill we’ve come to embrace after all these years. So “Thank You” shakes things up but still goes down smoothly.
BUY IT?: Yeah.
Spiritualized — ‘And Nothing Hurt’
THE GOOD: English prog/indie rock group Spiritualized comes back with a focused eighth.
THE BAD: Those longing for a return to the trippy days of 1997’s masterpiece “We Are Floating in Space” only will find distant echoes of all that weirdness. “Hurt” is a tighter affair.
THE NITTY GRITTY: That’s not to say frontman Jason Pierce (who also produces) and his crew play it completely safe. Tracks such as “On the Sunshine” and “The Morning After” add a little volume and spontaneity to an otherwise low-key set of songs. Pierce doesn’t give us outright ballads, though. Instead, we get meticulously crafted, multi-layered, down-tempo pieces that find ghostly choirs and sweeping orchestrations popping up in all the right places.
Pierce has mellowed over the past couple of records, probably because he learned to deal with some of his demons. No one can be the drug-addled eccentric psycho kid their whole life, and the same holds true for rock stars. “Hurt” may be far less strange, but it’s no less brilliant.
BUY IT?: Yes.