October 7, 2004

Test Spin: Interpol

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When Interpol released their now-infamous Turn on the Bright Lights in 2002, they became overnight indie-rock sensations. Critically lauded, popularly adored, and smartly dressed, their music simultaneously found its inspiration within, and transcended, the post-punk genre. Engulfed within moody introspection, the band’s dense, almost claustrophobic arrangements were complemented by Paul Bank’s breathless, sullen vocals delivering intricate testimonials of personal drama. Perhaps for the first time, people had a sense that the 90’s were over.

But with Antics, Interpol’s sophomore release, the band has now become conscious of their glamour, and the glare of their self-imposed spotlights is beginning to wear off. As such, they have become increasingly self-aware; no longer appearing to be completely at ease in their roles — conceivably because they need to try too hard to live up the weighty expectations that now surround their name — and it shows.

Their lyrics are more nebulous this time around — the beautiful declaratives and confessions of Bright Lights has turned into murky, half-poetic meanderings that carry a lot less cohesion both within a song and across the entire album then their predecessors. Musically, the band has become chipper and more melodic, but not necessarily in a good way; there hasn’t been a paradigm shift in their music, just a change of tone operating upon the same tired musical motifs.

“Public Pervert” is perhaps the centerpiece of the album in that it serves as both the largest deviation from the quartet’s prior sound and tone while also exhibiting the heartfelt assertiveness of their previous efforts. In airy and open verses, Banks sanguinely croons, “There is love to be made/ So just stay here for this while,” before taking the song’s chorus to blissful new heights: “Swoon baby starry night/ May our bodies remain.”

On the first track of the LP, “Next Exit,” Bank’s opens with the “We ain’t going to the town/ We’re going to the city.” But for this downtown NYC band, the self-consciousness exhibited on their second album makes it doubtful that they ever left the city in the first place. Doing so might be therapeutic for both the band and their fans. (***)

Archived article by Matthew Nagowski
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer