Interpol | Antics | Matador

The bassist from Interpol dresses like a fascist and wears a gun holster on stage. Bad. The bassist writes inspired bass lines that make the bass guitar more than just an instrument for rejected guitarists. Good. Interpol was pooped out from the New York City “hip factory” to receive godlike scenester hype. Bad. Interpol’s debut album Turn on the Bright Lights transcended the brittle hype, delivering a fully-formed masterpiece of crafty precision, emotional resonance and musical significance. Amazing. Unheard of.

Ah, the sophomore slump. How to follow up a nearly perfect debut? Ditch the gun holster? Unfortunately, no. Throw some curve balls while refining the tried-and-true formula of Turn on the Bright Lights? That sounds about right.

On Antics, Interpol opens the album with two very impressive curve balls: a doo-wop-inspired drone equipped with poppy organ (“Next Exit”), and a bass-heavy rocker that falls somewhere The Jesus & Mary Chain and the Pixies (“Evil”). Both songs smell of hit-single material (along with “Slow Hands,” their actual hit single) while declaring a departure from Bright Lights. As the album progresses, however, the departure becomes less obvious. But just when you’re sure that Interpol is back to their old tricks or dare I say “antics” (not funny), they throw two more curve balls. Tracks seven (“Public Pervert”) and eight (“C’mere”) show singer Paul Banks at his most optimistically bleak, crooning tender, “brooding” love songs. Note to reader: My roommate forced me to use the adjective “brooding.” My apologies.

So yeah, Interpol plays the whole fashion card, but they are forgiven. Antics testifies to their staying power by placing the music before anything else. So Mr. Bassist can retire his holster. Guns are out. Ninja stars are in.

Album Grade: A

[Joey Siara, your gun is digging into my hip.]