CD Review – Interpol “Antics”


Grade: A+

Sophomore albums are foremost in the musical paradigm of things that collapse beneath the irrational hungers of the buying public, exposing bands to panoplies of trouble: Fatuous lead singers contracting Chris Carrabba Syndrome; producers of Rick James’ stripe defiling a band’s vision; or songs that flatten themselves like the Edmund Fitzgerald.

If only modern English contained praise high enough to qualitatively summarize the work of the four lads who toil as Interpol: Carlos Dengler, Daniel Kessler, Paul Banks, and Samuel Fogarino have supplanted their own classic debut (Turn On the Bright Lights) with Antics, the very antidote that the enquiring mind requires to counteract the pernicious designs of the mainstream.

There is no band in this world currently tuning their instruments that is worthy of touching the Siege Perilous that is Interpol’s untainted venture into the aural form. Whereas My Bloody Valentine and their ilk — e.g. Portishead, Mazzy Star — have bartered reputation and longevity for egoism, Antics displays a unity of tone and focus indicative of a collective genius at its apex.

Intrepid while remaining loose, this collection of twelve songs ravages a listener as a cigarette does the lungs: No pit of the psyche is left unturned, the subconscious is fed a dream tonic until it bursts, and satisfaction is the only possible aftermath.

Gymnasts are similarly lean, but are sick with atrophy; Interpol’s second album is that rare breed of artistic document that ripples like a bazaar of layered pleasure: It is music unto itself, akin to Salvador Dali’s Hallucinogenic Toreador being a painting unto itself. Picked up like a rose and persisting like the worst of habits, Antics remains in the conscience and about the head like a surrealistic pillow.

After six trips from stem to stern, compositions such as “Evil” are still possessed of their austerity and the endemics of a tight rhythm; a lifetime’s worth of Modest Mice or Joy Divisions could never feign to reach the heuristics of Interpol with their stillborn minstrelsy.

Notwithstanding the collapse of popular music, Antics exists: Is there not any hope left amidst the dunderheaded wreckage of Soundgarden, Starship, and the Jesus and Mary Chain? A negative response to that question would seem wise, but there are positive ramifications to Interpol’s ascendance to the echelon of the culturally vaunted.

However jaded one is at its outset, the band’s latest release can only be met at the loggerheads of adulation and critical appraisal; a first hearing of Antics unfolds like a visit to the Louvre in that however many attempts are made to comprehend one’s environs, excellence is only a step away.

More tender and fulsome than Turn On the Bright Lights, this album debunks the mythic sophomore slump, shunting leisure to the ear as it simultaneously brightens the future, slakes those in the know, and beckons potential imitators into the lion’s den.

Antics is unequivocally peerless, a Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Tune: With nary a flaw and zero slack, perfection has arisen in the form of Dengler, Kessler, Banks, and Fogarino’s second communiqué.

Contact Adrian Doweat