Fresh off the release of last year’s Marauder, New York Post-Punk pioneers Interpol have returned with the 5 track EP A Fine Mess - and in places this is an apt description. Comprised of off-cuts from their recording sessions with producer David Fridmann, most of the tracks on the near 20-minute EP have the raw and distorted production that permeated the last album, an artistic change that I was never a fan of.
It’s not to say that it’s all bad, as the title track is a perfect microcosm of the skittish and frantic rhythm section the band are renown for. Here the severely underrated Sam Fogarino delivers some blistering drum work, supported with the best bassline to grace an Interpol song since the departure of Carlos D in 2010.
Afterwards, A Fine Mess’ tracklist continues into a very standard Interpol affair. You’d hope that with the shorter format of an EP that the band would be more inclined to experiment with their sound, but there’s a disappointing lack of this on the record outside of the synthy breakdown of the title track. Songs like No Big Deal (bang on with the name once again) and Thrones easily fall into the mire of mediocre Interpol tracks, a category that is still very small for a band with 6 major releases under their belt.
Real Life found itself on setlists during the Turn on the Bright Lights XV tour but was missing on Marauder, so it’s nice to see its studio version finally on A Fine Mess. The structure and jumpy guitar line on this track is very reminiscent of Antics-era Interpol making for a solid mix of the new and old. The production on certain parts of the EP isn’t as abrasive as Marauder was, making songs like The Weekend much less muddier than their album counterparts. Instances like this differentiate A Fine Mess from last years’ Marauder, as some of the tracks are genuinely well produced and sound like they were mixed in a studio - not ripped from a fans’ Instagram story.
At one time Interpol were pioneers of Indie-Rock, emerging from the same scene as The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, and The White Stripes. I’ve always said that the hill I will die on is proclaiming Interpol to be a better band that all those, and I still stand by that. I just doubt I’d use A Fine Mess as evidence for my case. It’s just more of the same from the boys, and while that’s perfectly fine, something more interesting and fresh couldn’t have hurt.