It wasn't just sharp, tailored suits and leather gun holsters that set Interpol apart from its New York peers back in 2002, when the return-of-the-rock retro frenzy was at fever pitch. For one thing, singer/guitarist Paul Banks' eerie channeling of the late Ian Curtis was startling enough to put a deep freeze on any serious connections to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' spastic melodicism or the Strokes' Velvet Underground-inspired seductiveness.
Over the past two years, Interpol has come into its own, touring extensively and joining the much-hyped Curiosa Festival, paving the way for the success of newcomers like Franz Ferdinand, and the Killers. And now with Antics, its second full-length, the band has graduated from those unavoidable Joy Division comparisons that accompanied its debut album, Turn On the Bright Lights, to the expected scrutiny that any group gets on sophomore-release turf. Although its opener, "Next Exit," starts with a dreamy organ melody that unfolds into simple, slow-paced drum, piano and guitar, the rest of the album doesn't go down that pared-down path. With danceable layers of guitar and a melodic chorus, "Evil" manages to sound anything but, and "Slow Hands" proves itself a potential hit when Banks pushes his voice to a new level of emotion.
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If Bright Lights was all about the gloom, then the forecast for Antics, which creates an atmosphere drenched with more melody and even veers into the major key, is partly cloudy. After all, Interpol fans still like things a little bit dark.