New York’s Interpol band first formed in 1997 when guitarist Daniel Kessler met drummer Greg Drud. Kessler met bassist Carlos Dengler when they were both studying at New York university and asked him to join. He then later asked vocalist and guitarist Paul Banks to join. After recording an ep Drudy left and was replaced by Sam Fagorino. After releasing a few more ep’s they signed with Matador Records and released their debut Turn on the Bright Lights in 2002. This album was very well received upon its release and the band came to be known as part of New York’s branch of the post-punk revival along with the likes of The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They released their second album titled Antics in 2004.
They left Matador in 2006 and signed with Capitol Records to release their third album entitled Our Love To Admire in 2007. With this record, it was very much a case of the difficult third album. It featured different kinds of elements such as the use of keyboards from the beginning of the song writing process and was met with a mixed reaction.
It would seem that the pressure of their fist release on a major label took its toll on Interpol, as by the time of the release of their self-titled album fourth album they were back with Matador. In particular, it would seem that for Dengler, the enthusiasm had waned, as he left the band not long after the album’s completion. This ended up being their most difficult time as band, a fact not helped by the record’s lukewarm reception.
Although they did continue to tour for the record for the next couple of years with several live musicians handling bass duties, in 2012 they announced that they were going on a much-needed hiatus. Over the following two years, the members worked on their own projects, which included a second solo album by Banks.
In 2014 the band, now a three piece with Banks taking over the bass, got back together to record their fifth album which was released later that year and was titled El Pintor (an anagram of the band’s name.) The album marked a welcome comeback for the band, and they would spend the next couple of years touring to promote it. They released the sixth album in 2018 titled Marauder.
# 10 – A Time To Be So Small
Kicking off this Interpol Songs list is the closing track from Antics. When it was released, this album reached number fifteen on the Billboard 200 and number twenty-one on the UK album charts. It sold over 48,000 copies in the US. It was also very well received critically, with many publications naming it their album of the year for 2004. Banks has retrospectively stated that this record is one of his favorites of the band’s discography.
# 9 – Pace Is The Trick
Up next on this Interpol songs list is a track from Our Love To Admire released in 2007. The band’s first to be released on a major label, although it was generally well received the different direction that the band went in with it did divided opinion with some critics. It was much more complex in terms of song arrangement in comparison to the more straightforward approach of the previous two records. Banks would later name it as one of his least favorite Interpol albums.
# 8 – Safe Without
This track was taken from their self-titled fourth album released in 2010 which was their last with Dengler. This album was not very well received, with many critics regarding it as being inferior to the band’s previous albums. This is perhaps a result of personal tensions within the band during the album’s recording which led to Dengler’s departure. However, despite all of this, the group themselves were reportedly happy with the final result.
# 7 – Specialist
Here is a track that was recorded during the sessions for the band’s debut in 2002 titled Turn on the Bright Lights. It did not make the final cut of the record but was included as one of the bonus tracks on the tenth anniversary reissue of it. When it was originally released, the record reached number 101 on the UK album charts and 158 on the Billboard 200. In addition to this it spent nearly two years on the Billboard Independent charts.
# 6 – PDA
Here we have the debut single from Turn on the Bright Lights. Unlike the two singles from the same album that followed, it failed to chart. However, it was nominated for an MTV2 award in 2003. It is one of the band’s oldest songs, having appeared on several of their early demo’s and ep’s. The song is very gloomy in nature and it is easy to see the rather frequent comparisons that the band often had to Joy Division during this period.
# 5 – Obstacle 1
And here is the second single to be taken from the first album. It reached number forty-one on the UK singles chart. It is one of Interpol’s best-known songs and it is easy to see why. Although the song is rather simplistic in terms of its structure, it works as the track has a kind of gloomy rawness that provides an effectively dark atmosphere. Much of the album is like this, which makes it easy to see why it is now regarded as one of the most seminal indie rock albums of the early 2000’s.
# 4 – Roland
Here we have yet another song from the first album! (It is my favorite record by the band!) Whilst it is not exactly clear who Roland is, whoever he is, he is clearly a busy man as the lyrics describe him getting up to a lot. This is one of the more upbeat tracks on an otherwise generally morose sounding album. Although with that said, is still has the kind of sad vibe on it that is prevalent throughout the rest of the record.
# 3 -Slow Hands
As we continue our top 10 Interpol songs list we turn to the lead single from the album Antics. It reached number thirty-six on the Uk charts and number fifteen on the Billboard Modern rock charts. The song’s lyrics appear somewhat sinister in nature, with it openly being about lusting after someone. However, this is somewhat made up for by the fact that the song is very danceable and catchy.
# 2 – Evil
Just off the top spot is the second single from Antics. The song is believed to be about Fred and Rose West, a British married couple who were serial killers and murdered several teenage girls. If this is indeed the case it would certainly explain the song’s title and the fact that the first word of the chorus is “Rosemary.” It reached number eighteen on the UK singles chart and number twenty-four on the Billboard.
# 1 – All the Rage Back Home
At the top spot on our Interpol songs list is the lead single from the band’s fifth album El Pintor released in 2014. This album received much more critical praise than the self-titled previous record and many fans saw it as an improvement. As their first record without Dengler it was a challenging one to make, as he had previously been a big part of the creative process. Banks stated later in an interview that the band’s future was uncertain after his departure. However, they clearly emerged triumphant and with this record as they discovered which direction they wanted to take themselves in.