In the two years since the release of Interpol’s first album, Turn on the Bright Lights, much in the musical climate has changed. Since then, The Strokes released their sophomore record, Room on Fire, to mediocre critical reaction and surprisingly mediocre album sales; meanwhile success has found many bands like The Killers, The Stills, The Rapture and Franz Ferdinand, who recently won the Mercury Music Award, riding on the coattails of the initial success created by bands like The Strokes and Interpol.
With that said, Interpol’s sophomore record, Antics, is definitely a product of the current trends. Eschewing the monotonous singularity of TBL, their latest disc plays as both a response to the band’s previous record as well as the current popularity of many of the aforementioned bands.
The album starts off with “Next Exit,” clearly illustrating the differences between Interpol’s latest offering and its predecessor. Opening with airy keyboards, ringing bluesy guitar tones and Paul Bank’s voice ascertaining, “We ain’t going to the town, we’re going to the city,” it is clear that Banks and co. have not replicated the majestic coldness apparent on their debut, rather opting (as in reference to “going to the city”) for a warmer affair, a party record, if you will.
In the case of some of the new material, this more optimistic approach is welcomed and well-executed; Banks has broadened his vocal range to render a depth that is more akin to Brian Eno or David Bowie than his earlier comparisons to Ian Curtis. The album’s standout tracks, “NARC” and “Take You On A Cruise,” work well with the album’s tone because their dynamics are not muted and they are melodically and emotionally charged, both musically and lyrically.
However, much of the material plays like unfinished products, songs formatted for radio consumption or radio-friendliness. The current single, “Slow Hands,” seems overtly plagiarized, musically borrowed from Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” with its disco dance beat, and lyrically so from Joy Division’s with its chorus of “Can you see what you’ve done to my heart and soul? This is a wasteland now.” Other songs follow suit; “Evil” amounts to a rehashed version of TBL’s “PDA,” with its rap-talk verses and choir-boy bridges, while “C’mere” and “Public Pervert” are lyrically embarrassing, with their abundant talk of ‘baby’ and cliched romantic allegories that supposedly lay anchor to the album’s nautical theme.
Responding to the current stream of “dance-punk” bands that are increasingly hoarding the air waves, Interpol have recorded a sophomore album that will divide the fan base that was initially attracted to them; leaving them to decide whether to enjoy the faux-party presented on their latest record, or to crawl back lamenting about their debut.