Always Malaise

Man, this was a difficult one to transcribe! As I mentioned in my previous post on “Always Malaise”, the production on this album—especially the layering of the synths—is much more nuanced than in previous albums, so the synth part is definitely not 100% exactly what’s on the recording, but still it’s a fairly close approximation. Also, there are some lyrics I couldn’t quite hear, particularly around 3:35 (measure 107); a lot of sites have it has “follow your soul”, but I just can’t hear it that way (the word that’s supposed to be “soul” sounds like it starts with a “t” to me). If anyone has access to the official lyrics, please feel free to correct me in the comments!

click to see full score PDF

click to see full score PDF

Some thoughts

“Always” sections (0:00-0:57, mm. 1-28; 1:32-2:28, mm. 45-72): As I mentioned in my previous post on this song, this section has 7 measure phrases, which is not the common length for a phrase (generally phrases are a multiple of 4). However, the section *does* have the common total of 4 phrases—so, 4 phrases, each made up of 7 measures. This section is more about melody than harmony, so I haven’t attempted to give chord names like I did for the other sections.

“Man I am” sections (0:58-1:31, mm. 29-44; 2:29-3:01, mm. 73-88): Each section has 2 phrases made up of 8 measures (16 measures total each section), and here the harmonies are more explicitly outlined than in the “Always” sections. The first 8 measure phrase contains the progression C-G-Ebm-Gb-Bbm-Bbm-Fsus-F, and the second 8 measure phrase contains Am7-G-Ebm-Gb-Bbm-Bbm-Fsus-F, almost exactly the same as the first phrase except it starts with Am7 instead of C. This progression is very similar to the progression in the

Coda section (3:02-4:13, mm. 89-120): Which has four phrases, also made up of 8 measures, the progression being Em-G-Ebm-Gb-Bbm-Bbm-Fsus-F. Thanks to the main guitar line, the harmonies in this section are crystal clear, as he outlines a triad (3-note chord) in each measure.

The overall drama of the song, as I hear it, is of something nebulous or unknown becoming progressively more defined. We start with a thin texture in which the piano and voice interweave very closely with each other, then the bass comes in and helps to create a clearer harmonic message in the “Man I am” section, this alternation repeats (and the second time Paul starts “peerin’ out of the shade”), and then we sort of burst into the coda, the straight-forward harmonies backed up by the fullest drum part of the song.

There are many more features that I love about this song (the vocal harmonies at the very end of the coda are so cool!) but that’s it for today. Up next? I’m thinking “Song Seven”, love the counterpoint between the bass and the voice!


~ by megwilhoite on November 3, 2013.

2 Responses to “Always Malaise”

  1. Hi Meg,

    Thanks for this great post ! … as Interpol are recording disk #5, I was guessing about lnterpol composition process . Let me ask you…

    As far as I understand, it all starts with Daniel lines or progressions, before they all interact and iterate contributions and improvements .

    Lyrics+vocals are main Paul’s contribution to Interpol’s creative process, but Interpol songs melody (not rythm, not armony or chord progression, not orchestration) is not typically played by any instrument as soloist. Instead, melody is dominated by Paul as singer, so my question is about who brings melody to Interpol songs, is it Daniel mainly or maybe is Paul ?

    cheers !

  2. Hi Fran! I refer to this post when thinking about their composition process: (very sadly the woman who owns this Tumblr passed away a few months ago)

    It’s a quote from Daniel, which says “I usually write basic progressions at home. Then I bring it to the band and if they’re into it we arrange and talk about it. It starts with me and the last thing to happen is Paul writes lyrics and melody.”

    So yeah, I think Paul writes most of his own melodies, though it wouldn’t surprise me if his melodic choices are influenced by Daniel’s guitar lines (you hear them imitating each other a lot!)

    Thanks for reading!

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