Interpol at the Vic Theatre / by Doyle Armbrust

Interpol bassist Carlos Dengler has joined the retreat…from Interpol. Neither the band nor the purveyor of its crucial low end has disclosed anything more revealing than a Hollywood divorce statement (“He has decided to follow another path, and to pursue new goals”), but given the precipitous defection of fans since 2002’s Turn on the Bright Lights, it’s clear the NYC brooders are poised at the proverbial fork in the road.

Having largely circumvented a sophomore slump with 2004’s Antics, the quartet submerged the remainder of its postpunk credibility in the high-gloss lacquer of its Capitol Records release, the inexcusably vacuous Our Love to Admire. Present were stiff, stand-alone tracks and a plethora of new instrumental playthings. Absent was the artful balance of Dengler’s heartsick bass and Sam Fogarino’s nuanced percussion, here garishly louder in the mix.

For those who’ve shelled out for Sunday’s sold-out show at the Vic or those eyeing tickets still available for Monday, there’s good reason to hold out hope for sets returning to Bright Lights–era glory. Former Slint guitarist Dave Pajo will fill the four-string vacancy left by Dengler, joined on the keys and vocals by Secret Machines veteran Brandon Curtis. As if the new talent wasn’t evidence enough of a much-needed shake-up, Interpol has returned to Matador Records for its upcoming full-length—self-titled to signal rebirth, natch. Perhaps to artistically reimburse those still smarting from Our Love, the label has released filmmaker Charlie White’s music-video stunner of an autoerotic milkgasm for the album’s first single, “Lights.” Even if the Blade Runner–meets–Matthew Barney video doesn’t appease all of the band’s skeptics, those who’ve been on hiatus since ’07 may want to take note of what’s starting to look like Interpol’s reintroduction to itself.

- Doyle Armbrust

published in Time Out Chicago on August 11th, 2010