Interpol’s 2002 debut, Turn On The Bright Lights, was one of the year’s best albums. The moody, propulsive guitars and cryptic lyrics of the down-and-out four-piece propelled them into the limelight and critical acclaim. The question is, does their new album, Antics, rest on its laurels?
Antics begins with the sweet sounds of a Sunday organ on “Next Exit,” a plodding, slow-dance hymn about returning to a home that’s become strange place. The entire album seems to be treading awkwardly over old ground, specifically in the land of star-crossed romances. Lyrics like “Feast your eyes I’m the only one / control me console me / cause that’s just how it should be done” (“Narc”) and “The anatomy of kisses and a teacher who tries / who knows I will disappear” (“Take You On A Cruise”) make this a perfect album to play while sorting through yellowed love letters.
The bluntly love-addled lyrics may border on tacky, but Paul Banks’ vocals give them a nervy and self-conscious quality. Sprinkled throughout the album are new wave strings and bittersweet choral harmonizing.
While the album maintains Interpol’s signature taut sound—the drumplay of Sam Fogarino providing a bouncy punch, with Dan Kessler’s guitar skipping around Carlos Dengler’s meaty and relentless bass lines—the overall feel is more subdued than on Bright Lights. Antics lends itself more to quiet introspection. Interpol, while not exactly boldly going where no band has gone before (“A Time To Be So Small” is off of an early EP), certainly can’t be accused of making a cookie-cutter album.
Slick as they sound, Interpol has actually moved away from the frantic, high-speed gloss of their debut, going as far as to toy with feedback on several tracks, notably the delicious finale to “Public Pervert.” The only sore spot is the cheese of “Not Even Jail.”
Flying in the face of a sophomore bomb, these pretentious New York kids have clearly established that they know how to rock. Will this satisfy their swelling fan-base? All the cool kids think so, but the only reason Interpol has reached so many ears in the first place is because everyone and their scenester brother has picked up on the fact that NYC bands are a hot ticket.
It can be tough to sort through all the ultimately forgettable acts out there. But it’s safe to say that Interpol is doing justice to NYC. And who really cares about New York when you’re experiencing great music?