Since releasing their début album ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ in 2002 to such a great reception, Interpol have been bastions of the so-called post-punk revival which gained traction at the start of the 21st century with the rise of the likes of The Strokes and Editors a few years later. That album in particular was a haven of layered, atmospheric guitars and pounding, simple but effective drumbeats, with singer Paul Banks’ deep baritone being, in the eyes of many, a dead ringer for Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. It was critically adored, with many of the most excited announcing that Curtis’ hugely influential band finally had successors, and has appeared on many ‘album of the decade’ lists since.
Weirdly enough though, we’re not actually discussing that album. 2004 follow up ‘Antics’ may not have resulted in quite the same amount of hype as its predecessor as is common with follow-up works, but it’s actually my favourite album of theirs, even taking in to account this year’s hugely successful fifth record ‘El Pintor’, which could be regarded as another Interpol masterpiece. What makes ‘Antics’ so special is the move from the first album’s cloying sense of brooding, claustrophobic and reverberating guitars in to songs that encapsulate that same ambient edge but adds a lot more melodies and a mysterious, dramatic element that would go on to be further explored in their third record ‘Our Love To Admire’.
After the soothing ‘Next Exit’ coaxes you in, the album hits you with its first gem, ‘Evil’. It features an infectious bassline and a song that builds to a rousing chorus, Daniel Kessler’s considered guitar work working well with Carlos Dengler’s aforementioned brilliant bassline. Rumoured to be about serial killers Fred and Rosemary West, Banks’ cryptic lyrics leave a lot of room for interpretation which could be seen as both a good and a bad thing, but his singing is always melodic and matches the moods of the songs very well, to the extent that he could easily be saying any random words and it wouldn’t affect the song too much so great is the emphasis on the musical textures. That being said, despite their sometimes indecipherable nature, there is a poetry to his lyrics that can’t be denied, as showcased in ‘Take You On A Cruise’, which boasts a wonderful guitar hook but also some of Banks’ best lyrics, opening line “I’m timeless like a broken watch” being just the start of a cavalcade of highly memorable lines. It’s one of the strongest songs on the album, embodying that mysterious air and feeling epic at the same time, it’s one of the more understated songs and doesn’t have the infectiousness of songs like ‘Slow Hands’, but it’s a song that revels in its atmosphere and Banks’ almost ethereal voice.
‘Slow Hands’is another brilliant song however, and arguably the album’s most accessible work, which is exactly why it’s the lead single. Boasting the same infectious quality as ‘Evil’, it’s hard not to sing along with Banks even if you’ve got no idea what you’re singing. Indeed, the chorus comprises of the lines “we spies, we slow hands, put the weights all around yourself”, which is about as cryptic as they get but it’s an ethereal, euphoric song with memorable guitar lines and a chorus that sticks in your head, even with the lyrics.
The second half of the album is equally successful, if perhaps not as radio friendly, reverberating guitars building in each song and creating a rousing, dramatic sound that’s a hallmark of the rest of the songs. From ‘Not Even Jail’ to ‘Length of Love’, including the next highlight, the brilliantly powerful ‘C’mere’ a song that revels in the shimmering quality of its guitars, produced just so that it had that searing, powerful eeriness to it that so encapsulates the album. It’s ultimately an album that feels like a journey, the sort of work that creates an atmosphere of cool tension that almost makes you want to get a smoke machine and stand in the centre of your room as the clouds form around you.