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Interpol – Antics

Label – Matador (OLE 616-1, OLE 616-2)

Format – LP, CD

Country – UK / US

Released – 2004

Genre – Indie Rock

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Antics is US group Interpol’s follow up to their critically-acclaimed 2002 debut Turn on the Bright Lights. I was introduce to the band by my friend who excitedly informed me of the Johnny Marr-influenced guitaring on several tracks of the first album, and the obvious nod to Ian Curtis in the style and intonation of Paul Banks’ vocals. My friend and I have had a friendly argument since Antics was released; he maintains that Turn on the Bright Lights is Interpol’s finest work; I disagree as I feel that Antics is a step up from the debut, excellent though that record was.

The sound has matured a little on this second album, but all of the original ingredients are still there – the driving rhythm section ably led by Carlos D’s bass playing, Banks’ confidence as a vocalist has grown and his voice is more prominent in the mix on many songs. This is a more coherent selection of tracks, great care has been taken over the order of the songs and there seems to be a better overall flow as the record progresses from track to track.

It says something for the strength of this release that I cannot actually find a poor song on the album. If I was pressed to point out a weakness, I would have to go for the opener, Last Exit. Even so, this is a rousing effort; granted it is a bit slow and ponderous but as opening tracks go it eases you nicely into the sound the album is trying to produce.

The next track Evil starts off with staccato drums and stabbing guitars accompanying the vocals. As ever, it is the bassline that keeps the track moving along, providing an anchor for the rest of the musicians to hang on to – this prevents the songs from ever sounding sloppy or fractured. Banks alternates between singing and spitting out the lyrics, the final refrain “why can’t we just look the other way, why can’t we just play the other game” sounding like a venomous retort to a spurned lover.

Narc and Take you on a Cruise continue the blueprint, jangling guitars and raucous drumming accompanying vocals that transition from plaintive to snarling and back again in the space of a single verse.

Next up is Slow Hands, which is more straightforward track and which contains an homage to Joy Division via the lyric “can’t you see what you’ve done to my heart….and soul” This song ratchets up the tempo from the previous track and provides a nice little reminder that the band can rock out when the mood suits them.

Drums and bass provide the foundation for the beginning of the next song, Not Even Jail. The vocals here are more reflective; “I’ll subtract pain by ounces, yeah I will start painting houses, if things come awry” and “I promise to commit no acts of violence, be it physical, or otherwise“. Once again, the lyrics seem to be pointing to a failed or failing relationship; “you’re making people’s lives feel less bright“. The slow fade out at the end of the track leads into Public Pervert, which is probably my favourite track on the album. I love the opening line; “if time is my vessel, then learning to love might be my way back to sea” which sounds hopeful and positive. Jangling guitars give way to a drum-and-bass guitar-led middle third before the track amps up again to a rousing finish.

C’mere is more Interpol-by-numbers, a fairly decent but slightly uninspiring track which keeps things ticking over but which doesn’t do anything original given what we have already heard.

Length of Love is another favourite, opening with another great lyric; “this could be destiny, oh sweetheart. I’ve had no sense of time, since we started“. The structure of this track highlights lead guitar as well as the excellent rhythm section, and the quick-fire shifting from verse to chorus and back again really shows off the talent of the musicians who are well on top of their game here.

The last track on the record, A Time To Be So Small, is a cracking song. Slower than the previous tracks, it features a pleasant piano melody among the other instruments. The vocals are less strident but there is no lack of emotion or feeling. Overall this is a strong finish to a great album, and one which I hope you all will enjoy as much as I do.

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