Initial thoughts on El Pintor

I am desperately trying to analyze these songs, but I keep getting swept up in the music and losing concentration! But here are my initial thoughts:

When I listened through the entire album for the first time a couple weeks ago, my first impression was that it’s much more playful than the rest of their output. There’s freedom in the way the songs are put together. I also noted that it’s an extremely rhythmically complex album. Daniel’s opening riffs in several of the songs leave you wondering where the downbeat is until the drums come in and announce the meter.

I’ve started graphing the structure of the songs, and my impression of rhythmic complexity and freedom in song form seems to be correct: “All the Rage” starts off structurally predictable (though the guitar riff is very metrically unpredictable) at 4 bars/measures of 4 beats each, repeated 4 times. The verse shares the 4 bar structure, but is only repeated 3 times, which is unusual for Interpol. Even more unusual is that the chorus is 3 bars of 4 beats, and again repeated only 3 times—>the COOLEST part being that the last bar of the chorus elides with the first bar of the next verse: The ending of one and the beginning of the other happen simultaneously. Elision is so cool in music.

What’s also cool is that we got a foreshadowing of this freedom in metrical and formal structure in the last album, with “Lights” (see my post on that song).

Ok, back to graphing (assuming that I can stop listening to “My Desire” on repeat haha).




~ by megwilhoite on September 21, 2014.

9 Responses to “Initial thoughts on El Pintor”

  1. i love your blogs. it’s helping a lot with my music theory studies.

    i love you Meg! haha i hope you keep this whole thing up. 😉

  2. El Pintor is really something, i dont get why people keep dismissing it. I dont even miss Carlos’ saccato basslines. the songs sounded different and new.

    Please also analyze Same Town, New Story, i you have time. It’s my favourite on the album. Thanks! 🙂

    • Yeah I like this new direction they’re taking, and it’s good to know that Carlos wasn’t integral to their writing process. Ok, I’ll prioritize “Same Town”!

  3. Hi Meg,

    Looking forward your next post …Please don’t take too long 🙂

    I’m also very interested in knowing your personal review of El Pintor as a listener/fan/artist , not as a music analyst.

    Thanks !

    Personally, I believe it’s their “less-greater” album and I don’t listen it much as I did with the rest of discs … although some songs of S/T took mi time to to get them and your blog did help me a lot to enjoy those songs after I understood the structure behind, I think El Pintor songs are not shocking, quite repetitive, overproduced, not impressive….Sonicaly is not sophisticated, I like the new electronic drums, the way Paul sings in Breaker1, MyBlueSupreme, and the interwoved guitars in few songs and the overall group willingness to make this record upbeat and intense, few incursions into new sounds, but overall, I think there’s not much tonal palette, muddy mixes, song structures (seem to me ) more standard ( basically verse+chorus+verse+ etc) … no bridges or gorgeous outros, no orchestration, no interwoved guitars like TOTBL / ANTICS / OLTA, etc.. …definitely not an ANTICS style record as many people say (nor a TOTBL neither), instead it’s a mix of last Paul Banks solo record and the S/T. Anyway, any group has the right to have their less-creative-record and I don’t want to look too negative. 😉 Some songs are a 6/10 others are 8.5 to me, so no super-hits (any other disk had at least 3 awesome songs) ….overall i’d give the record a 7, …. anyway, probaly I should listen to El Pintor in a different way and also get your analysis to look at it in a different way

    • Hi Fran! It’s been a year (!!) — do you still feel lukewarm about Pintor? I’m curious to know what fans think now that the album has been around for awhile!

  4. Dear Meg,

    I truly enjoy your blog and it has always been of great help in understanding the musical structure at the basis of my listening experience. I was wondering if you could analyse “My Desire” (as soon as you do manage to stop listening to it on repeat!). I can sense here the same principle of construction employed in the composition of “Safe Without”, but (as you’ve said) used in a rhythmically more complex way. One of the things I appreciate about their music is how (in Kessler’s use of brief melodic motives, endlessly repeated with slight variations) minimalist they manage to be in their approach to music, and yet, at the same time, how emotive. “My Desire” is a great example of this. Also, in many of these songs (All the Rage, My Desire, Breaker 1), I can sense unrelenting tension and can’t really put my finger on why. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. Thanks!


    • Dear Liz,

      Apologies, I should’ve replied to your comment ages ago! I think your use of “minimalist” is very pithy, I’d never thought about it that way before; there’s definitely a correlation between the tight construction and avoidance of a sense of “arrival” between Interpol’s songs and the larger minimalist movement. Thank you for the food for thought!

  5. […] the album that says “we can survive the loss of Carlos D.” Like I mentioned in my initial thoughts on El Pintor, there is something very playful and free-sounding about this […]

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