Interpol
Antics

Matador
2004
C
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2004-09-27



Posted 09/27/2004 - 11:52:55 AM by camlindsay:
 Interpol scoring a lower grade than Ambulance Ltd, as well as the dude from Savage Garden...anyone else see the problem with this. Not that it matters, but I think Antics is a fantastic follow-up. The more you listen to it, the more it feels like a worthy successor.
 
Posted 09/27/2004 - 12:10:51 PM by hutlock:
 I do see a problem with it -- but reviewers are voicing opinions, and comparing them is basically apples and oranges. It's not like some cosmic Stylus ratings God comes down and makes sure they are all in order according to what "ranks" where in the grand scheme of things. Ian didn't rank the other two records, and so his "6" should be looked at with on its own merits. For the record, I agree with him -- it's about a 6 to me as well.
 
Posted 09/27/2004 - 12:15:11 PM by tttTJ3ttt:
 I don't see a problem with the relative scoring of albums on Stylus. I am in complete agreement with Ian's review here (Shocking!)...Spot on review! No it's not the first time I see eye to eye with Ian, simply the first time I'm being vocal about it. For the last few weeks, I had so many conversations about this album that either end up with people agreeing with me that TOTBL is far better and Antics is under whelming or that people love Antics and feel that it is a step forward from TOTBL. The weird thing is everyone seems to feel the need to compare Antics to TOTBL, myself included...granted this happens quite a lot, but some bands are granted immunity from Sophomore vs Debut Album comparison. The reason I bring this up is because I would argue that people in the "TOTBL is better than antics" camp would probably like the album even less if it was the debut album by some other band...for me, the fact that Interpol made it makes me consciously elevate its value... So Ian, with that in mind, would you score this album even less if it wasn't Interpol?
 
Posted 09/27/2004 - 12:15:44 PM by crzymdups:
 I completely agree with this take on the album. It's a 6. Bravo.
 
Posted 09/27/2004 - 03:56:42 PM by IanMathers:
 I think hutlock's point that I didn't rate the other two albums is pretty important. I haven't even heard them, so I can't really say much about their relative merits (although I do admit that I think I might like "The Tension And The Spark" more than "Antics"). The more I listen to "Antics" the more I like the bits that I already liked, but the less I feel like it's a worthy successor to TOTBL. It feels, correctly or not, like they're playing it safe (something the 8.5 review on Pitchfork essentially praises them for, bizarrely enough) and that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As for rating it if it was by another band, I'll confess to thinking about this for the last few days, and I'm not sure what I'd do. Even my mark for this one slid around a lot, from a 3 at first to a 7 at times (I think a 6, a "good", is the right decision, though). I'd have to give it more credit for not being a retreat, but I'd have to take off points for it being a pale imitation of Interpol. The review would probably end with me wishing that Interpol themselves prove able to do better when their second album comes out. So yeah, I think I would mark it less if this was a new band. Tough to tell, though.
 
Posted 09/27/2004 - 05:43:51 PM by badri.j:
 Ian, Congrats on being one of the first reviwers here that got me all so fired up I had to register and respond ;) The fact is I give an almost exact rating to this album, a 7, infact. But I feel to blame them for sounding too much like Interpol is just so unfair. Their first album was blamed for sounding too derivative of everyone from Echo and the Bunneymen to (most lazily) Joy Division. And now, all of a sudden, everybody seems to think that there is "an" Interpol sound, and they sound way too much like themselves. The fact they are obviously playing it safe here is true. Not as many abrupt basslines. The dramatic atmosphere is cut back on, Paul Banks' voice is up there in the mix (which may be a mixed blessing considering some of the cringeworthy lyrics)...but to blame them for sounding like themselves, is just plain unfair.
 
Posted 09/27/2004 - 06:39:06 PM by seahorsegenius:
 Are you kidding me? The verses in "Narc" are practically dance! How are they playing it safe? It seems to me the only thing you people can notice is reverb and lyrics. So it's not got the "intense" breakdown in this song or that song. It's not trying to. It has alot of other things working for it...see the above.
 
Posted 09/27/2004 - 06:54:10 PM by IanMathers:
 badri.j, that's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all month. To clarify a bit, my problem is not that it "sounds like Interpol", but that it sounds like Interpol lite, Interpol with the guts removed. To be fair, it's not like I hate the album, but I'm not even slightly tempted to buy it. seahorsegenius: See what above? I'm not sure what you're referring to.
 
Posted 09/27/2004 - 08:47:01 PM by Sotoalf:
 Bravo, Ian, for telling us, in essence, don't believe the hype. Perhaps it's because I'm older (29 y/o) and have listened to Interpol's influences most of my life, but this band has never had anything to say to me. I saw them live about a year ago, bought the record, and thought Interpol were amusing and cute, a bunch of guys trying way too hard to sound Significant and Serious. Yours is the first review to couch genuine love for this band with some deadly criticism. A music critic's toughest job is rapping the knuckles of a band one admires, and you did it with a lot of class and wit. P.S. - I prefer Bernard Sumner's gibberish to Paul Banks'. At least Barney doesn't mean it most of the time.
 
Posted 09/27/2004 - 11:38:52 PM by crzymdups:
 Yeah, keep up the good work, Ian. I think Pitchfork's review, among others, was pretty lazy. People need to realize these lyrics are beyond trite and the songs are 'layered and dense and thick with atmosphere,' but they're not good songs. I don't get how this band gets away with the crap it gets away with. Ah well, at least there's other non-believers out there.
 
Posted 09/28/2004 - 09:24:27 AM by hutlock:
 I'm with Alf... I was raised on those influences (I'm a few years older than you though, Alf...)as well and as such Interpol hold a pretty limited appeal to me. However, as I think I remarked to Ian once: at least they are being derivative of bands I love.
 
Posted 09/28/2004 - 09:33:06 AM by camlindsay:
 I fully realise that Ian didn't review the guy from Savage Garden, but the fact that a review ran for that album with a score of 9 is insane. Kudos for not giving into the pressure there is to give one of the better bands out there a high score. I've heard mixed reviews about the new album, but I don't think it deserves a 6. Call me lazy, but I agree with Pitchfork.
 
Posted 09/28/2004 - 10:31:44 AM by IanMathers:
 Why the _hell_ is it insane for the Darren Hayes album to get a nine, other than blind prejudice?
 
Posted 09/28/2004 - 10:37:02 AM by IanMathers:
 Also, let's not forget what alf points out: I do have genuine love for the band. Hell, I mention I like "Take You On A Cruise", which has the "Fred Astaire" clunker cited above. I just hope that years from now we'll look back on this one as a transitional record, them finding their feet, rather than a sign of things to come.
 
Posted 09/30/2004 - 06:13:40 PM by mtwill:
 Ian...wrong, wrong, wrong...i hereby predict you'll be explaining away this shortsighted review to friends and family within six months. The "lazy" pitchfork review actually nailed it...a rarity in itself. Interpol are three steps ahead of all of us...and five steps ahead of you! is it bright lights? of course not--how could it be? who would want it to be? who cares? it is however 40+ of the deepest, most clever, downright wicked minutes of sound anyone has come up this year for sure. i laughed and i cried and yes there was moderate headbanging...personally i'm in the 8.5 camp, although in my mind reasonable people can disagree within the 8-10 range...but a 6?...better leave the next big record to someone else...
 
Posted 09/30/2004 - 09:25:25 PM by IanMathers:
 Considering my friends and family really couldn't care about/haven't heard of Interpol, I doubt I'll be explaining something, even if I did change my mind. Which, you know, I won't. Even if you like the record, to call it album of the year denotes either a shocking level of ignorance or, you know, maybe you've got different taste in music than I do. No, better insult me instead.
 
Posted 10/01/2004 - 02:27:55 PM by Humbaba:
 Great review, I think you've nailed this record pretty well. It is indeed Interpol-by-numbers, and while that's not necessarily a disaster, it's somewhat disappointing. There's no "PDA" here, nor is there the attention-grabbing bloc of songs, as there was on Turn on the Bright Lights with "Untitled," "Obstacle 1," "NYC," and "PDA." However, "Narc" is fantastic, with a great hook and one of Banks' best performances, and "Not Even Jail" works quite well as the album's swirling centerpiece. On the subject of Joy Division: I never thought Interpol sounded much like Ian Curtis and co. Banks' voice has a vague similarity to Curtis, but he sings with an energy and even an absurdity (the lyrical faux pases that Ian points out are great examples of this) that would have no place in the funereal, elegiac world of Joy Division. The chiming guitars and shifting melodies also don't share much with Joy Division's spartan world and dirge-like ruminations. Interpol are their own creative force, and I still think that they can one day produce a Great album that will expand upon the ideas of TOTBL and Antics.
 
Posted 10/01/2004 - 05:06:05 PM by mtwill:
 c'mon, lighten up ian! its all for fun. speaking of fun, just take the weekend to clear the decks and then crank it up on your way to work on monday... "meanwhile can we look the other way?" you know you want to sing it! i can barely keep from belting it out right here at work. "she found a lonely sound!" seriously, the genius is subtle and is only now beginning to reveal itself to me. i may have to reconsider my original 8.5. seahorsegenius (great handle, btw)gets it...that bass, those drums...its totally new. makes the rapture sound like the footnote they are. with totbl, the jd comparisons were spot-on--not just the voice, but the drums, the way songs are driven by the bass, and the fact that certain hooks felt like they really were lifted straight out of disorder or she's lost control. no bad thing either, since banks' sarcastic voice gave the precedings a pavement-like ironic quality that saved it from ever feeling derivative. but that jd thing really is gone on antics--drums on evil notwithstanding. without changing the formula in any really overt way they've come up with a sound that is totally their own. more mature, more emotional, more urbane--a little less lonely and forlorn, but a bit prettier and a little creepier. any lingering suspicions (and lots of people had them) that these guys might be at least some part marketing phenom/flavor of the month now seems silly. interpol is the most exciting band on planet earth. your friends and family will be singing along in no time! (wink)
 
Posted 10/03/2004 - 12:47:05 PM by meatbreak:
 Turn on the Bright Lights is still on my stereo, despite being challenged every week by something in the back of my head telling me that there was more substance to be garnered elsewhere. Sinister and unsettling is what black metal is for, but you can't Disco in corpsepaint (unless you're Darkthrone). Antics has 'Slow Hands', Bank's most disturbed non-sequiter over both albums. This, and the sliding spiral of bass and guitar back up to the chorus ruptured my descent into sleep. Forced to listen again, drawn to this vortex in the centre, I have found myself asking the same questions again. How long will this cycle continue, and how many times will it perpetuate itself?
 
Posted 10/08/2004 - 03:47:44 PM by Leeson:
 Ian is very close to accurate. He errs when he writes that the album improves the more you listen. This is pure charity. The album actually diminishes further with more plays. You start to realize that there REALLY isn't after all any subtle magic to be discoverd. It's was blah at first play, and it remains blah 20 plays later. Interpol is still my favorite band, but I know and can admit to crap when I hear it. If this was a new band that released this this album, none of us would have even heard of it. They'd still be playing bars in their home town. There is maybe 2 hooks in the entire album. And damn right I said hook. Got a problem with that? The guitarist is showing himself to be very unimaginative after all. No not dedicated to stylistic...just plain repetitive and boring. Antics is worse than bad, it's a who-cares. Will be gone and forgoten like the breeze.
 
Posted 10/12/2004 - 09:31:39 PM by tallcool1_69:
 I gotta question somebody's tastes or musical knowledge when they say x band is their favorite but half their records are crap... is this person like... 4 years old? Anyway, the album - TOTBL took a while to make its mark on me, but i quite like it now... maybe Antics will do the same...
 
Posted 10/26/2004 - 01:26:49 AM by quietbelow:
 i woudl guess that we bear differences in taste. but my problem with this review has little to do with differences in taste. rather, it has to do with the fact that at no point do you go into the actual song structures, or any technical analysis. assertions - both positive and negative - ought to be backed up by some sort of evidence. i believe that this is, after all, what music critics do: apply some notion of theory and technical worth to music, just as critics of all artistic mediums do within the context of their particular expertise. content-wise, the simple statement that the arrangments sound "interpolian" is meaningless. most of the time, you use "feeling" descriptors to validate or invalidate the songs - this is a disservice to any album, Interpol's or otherwise. claiming the album's tracks "leak into each other" is dandy, except for the fact that songs in different keys, employing different hooks, and different phrasing (not to mention different time signatures) never bleed together to a trained ear. you simply cannot claim "bleeding" when keys would clash, or one hook would not make sense in any of the other songs' arrangments. so that's essentially my problem. even when you praise "not even jail" as being long and intense, where interpol's approach works well, it's praise without content. linkin park's music can be described as intense, and it's crap. the reason linkin park is crap? their arrangements are pathetically simple sets of hooks and chord changes, with a great deal of overproduction besides. long story short: cogent music analysis makes a valid opinion, not assessments of how tracks "feel" or "seem" or "are" without anything to back those judgments up.
 
Posted 10/26/2004 - 01:32:08 AM by quietbelow:
 incidentally, it's also worth mentioning that antics is technically superior, and a hell of a lot tighter, than TOTBL. they reduce atmosphere and focus on songwriting a lot more - take you on a cruise being a prime example: moving through three separate passages that make the most out of their individual hooks, and posing countermelodies to their original feedback hook, etc. and they do it in around 4 minutes. granted, if one goes to music for pure atmosphere, one might as well go to cliched ambient material from weak artists. anyhow, antics' technical and songwriting-tightness alone makes it at least as good as TOTBL, which time has revealed, for those who couldn't figure it out, to be a great album. dozens of critics number it in their top 10 of the decade so far. so antics getting a 6, in light of it being technically superior to TOTBL, is a bit confusing.
 
Posted 10/26/2004 - 01:35:23 AM by quietbelow:
 and lastly, i've noticed a trend: those reviews which praise antics tend to be those that actually go into their music to some detail, including the much revered/reviled pitchfork. the reviews that give antics average-pretty good ratings? you guessed it: largely bereft of real music analysis.
 
Posted 11/13/2004 - 08:53:37 PM by IanMathers:
 "most of the time, you use "feeling" descriptors to validate or invalidate the songs - this is a disservice to any album" Uh huh. Because music, as we all know, has nothing to do with feelings - it has to do with technique! And keys! What? I'm sorry I'm not a music major, dude, but no one is ever going to be able to convince me that theory is the most important thing about art/experiencing art, including music. Antics may well be "technically superior", but that just proves my point; you can't just go down a checklist of technical aspects in deciding whether music is good or not.
 
Posted 11/14/2004 - 09:16:46 PM by tallcool1_69:
 now... i'm not a linkin park fan but to say they are crap BECAUSE they are simple sets of chord changes etc is devoid of knowledge. Did you write AC/DC songs? Did you write Ramones songs? Both pretty simple and I could go on with examples but just because something is (sometimes deceptively) simple doesn't render it crap.
 
Posted 12/15/2004 - 02:09:51 AM by quietbelow:
 that's fine and good, but you're quoting a phrase of a greater argument, and dealing with that alone, as well as misrepresenting it. i never said that music is not about feeling. of course it is, and that's one of its most impressive aspects: both visceral (feeling) and intellectual effect. so of course it's impossible to critique an album based on technique alone. but that's not the (i think it's pretty clear) point of my comment; namely, in music writing (and really, isn't it in all writing?) you ought to back up what you assert. and in this review, you don't at all. you give the album certain qualifiers, but don't explain why. ultimately, i think you'd be hard pressed to convince anyone that as a music critic you're not obliged to actually look at song structures. it doesn't require you to be a music major; i'm not one either. but all music critics ought to have some knowledge about what makes quality music aside from what they feel about it. we all have subjective experiences of our own; what good does it do me or a reader to hear how you feel about an album when there's nothing to explain that feeling? opinion pieces (which all reviews are) are meaningless if they don't have any argument to them. i could claim the earth is flat, or that i feel like the earth is flat, but why would you believe me?
 
Posted 01/06/2005 - 10:26:20 PM by tallcool1_69:
 errr. because then we'd know yer an idiot?
 
Posted 01/16/2005 - 02:39:34 AM by JohnICV:
 I do not understand why Interpol's lyrics are labeled by some as nonsensical and laughable. Often it is these lyrics that can be the most affecting. The combination of subtlety, cynicism, and absurdity are clever and sharp. Paul's lyrics can be cliche and impotent in a literal sense, but this ties into the theme of the albums: an examination of the nature of communication and self-expression. I tried to look into this a bit further in a rejection of the article here that notes the bands top 10 "worst" lyrics: http://www.stylusmagazine.com/feature.php?ID=1308
 
Posted 01/21/2005 - 12:10:01 AM by harveyparadox:
 well...i really like "next exit" and "a time to be so small",("rehearsing an erection he wasn't even there" is just pure genius)...but that still leaves the 8 songs in between...which makes antics kinda the perfect nap album...fall asleep after "next exit" and wake up to "a time to be so small"...perfect!
 
Posted 09/16/2005 - 10:36:14 PM by Karen890:
 I'm like a catfish rooting around in the dark and every once in a while I find a tasty treat. My sixteen year old turned me onto Interpol by making me listen to their Turn on the Bright Lights cd everytime we went for a cruise in my truck. Every song I heard awoke something in me and I'm hooked! I listen to them at work while working on my patients and even though they've never heard of Interpol, they really get into their music too. The lyrics remind me of the things I love wine, food, friends, funny characters I've met, the weather, sex, love, my husband, dreaming of the future, the times I take cold medicine and feel out of it but just enjoy the ride, you name it! For me it's all there in the lyrics. I hope more people to listen to their music and Interpol gets the recognition they deserve. By the way I was at their Denver concert Sept 11th at the Fillmore and they were flawless.
 
Posted 10/01/2005 - 11:27:32 AM by BeingaBunny:
 This album is a B grade. End of story.
 
Posted 11/27/2005 - 02:43:31 PM by dougrokakis:
 Easily the worst sophmore album of the millenium.