Antics (The Special Edition)

Antics (The Special Edition)

Interpol set the bar very high for themselves with their debut Turn On the Bright Lights, but managed to match or exceed expectations with their second record. While the first album went heavy on grim atmosphere and a vague but potent air of romantic anguish, Antics doubles down on hooks and precisely calibrated rhythms, resulting in a tighter and more concentrated set of songs. The songwriting, particularly on the hits “Evil” and “C’mere,” is brighter and more melodically generous than most anything on Bright Lights without sacrificing any of the group’s shadowy mystique. Singer and guitarist Paul Banks’ vocals are higher in the mix, which places more emphasis on his inscrutable lyrics. Some lines are so odd and awkward they make the song more memorable than it might be otherwise—“We spies, we slow hands, put the weights around yourself”—while other lyrics are like Rorschach blots set to music, like when Banks passionately bleats “Combat salacious removal” a few times at the climax of “Length of Love.” Banks’ best lines are evocative phrases that pop up out of nowhere at the most dramatic moment of a song, like when he belts out “You’re making people’s lives feel less private” midway through the careening “Not Even Jail.” Banks was clearly aware that most anything sounded intense and serious with his nasal and stentorian voice, and that nonsense hits better with a paranoid, bug-eyed tone. “Evil” stands out as a major career highlight, and serves as a showcase for each member of the quartet at their best. Carlos D’s bass groove sounds like a twitchier version of Kim Deal’s style on the first few Pixies records, while Sam Fogarino brings a little swing to the galloping beat, and Daniel Kessler’s lead guitar alternates between jitters and elegance. Banks’ verse melody—“Rosemary, heaven restores you in life”—is so lovely that you can miss that he’s suddenly addressing another woman named Sandy in the chorus. The lyrics are vivid but resist narrative, so it ends up sounding like a portrait of a manipulative cad who maybe isn’t actually cut out to be a player.

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