Now that we’ve talked out Interpol’s influences (Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, et al), on its second album we can finally hear the band for what it is: a bunch of upper-tier urbane rockers with a knack for memorable goth-shaded songs and the smarts to dress sharp and keep their lyrics out of the CD booklet. Interpol believes in mystery and on Antics lead-singer Paul Banks does a commendable job of burying his fumbling poetry (“If time is my vessel then learning to love might be my way back to sea” opens the unfortunately titled “Public Pervert”) inside his original vocal delivery and a healthy dollop of reverb.
More importantly, these songs feel heavy and significant enough—due to dynamic production and hooky choruses—even if we don’t know exactly what they mean. There’s no deadly love-at-first-listen moment like the debut’s “NYC,” but songs like “Evil” (a nice combo of bass-and-drum verses and satisfying power-chord choruses) and “Not Even Jail” (its trebly guitar ring conjuring America’s biggest ’80s hero, R.E.M.) are focused and carefully constructed. The members of Interpol are ready to look forward and the future looks dim, just the way they like it.