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Record Review

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Interpol have caused a bit of a stir lately, going from breathless NYC up-and-comers to indie band du jour in less than a year's time. All the media attention, whether lavished in earnest or as an opportunistic alternative to the doldrums of mook rock, has been snowballing since the Strokes caught fire last year. And if Turn On the Bright Lights is any indication, it looks like the helicopter of hype currently swooping around the Big Apple actually may be on to something.

Goth in a poppy sort of way, Interpol has a willing similarity to many '80s underground luminaries: Paul Blank's vocals often channel Joy Division's Ian Curtis ("Obstacle 1"), and the slipping bass lines pull from early Echo and the Bunnymen. Snobbier obscurists will notice Josef K or Orange Juice on tracks like "Roland." The band also revives the skinny-tie-and-blazers look of the Smiths, just in case anyone is having doubts about Interpol's influences.

Yet impulsively dismissing Interpol as derivative is to deny an album brimming with excellent songs. The dissonant tremor of post-punk is apparent but spare, giving preference to suave hooks and layered atmosphere. The gorgeous ballad "NYC" is particularly evocative; it's the stunning single Coldplay hasn't been able to pull off. Turn On the Bright Lights may not be a sonic watershed, but it's compelling intimation that Interpol might have one in them.



Interpol plays the Cotton Club Sun., Dec. 8.

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