Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.
When evaluating Interpol, a friend of mine once scoffed, "They made a great album then they made it two more times." This was before 2010's eponymous release. And his biting statement is pretty true. They are not an outfit striving for diversity. Their singer is limited. Their songs don't even think about the existence of other genres. When I read my list to see what we had left, I was surprised to see Interpol this high. But then I played the record again, and instantly remembered why I had them where I did. I shouldn't have doubted myself.
When "Next Exit" begins, it does so at a pace that says, "I'm not going out of my way for you here." Still, it's got a groove that pulls you along in its own plodding way. Anyone who was feeling impatient is will be pleased as we quickly get to "Evil." The first time I heard this song, I was totally blown away, and haven't ever lost that feeling. It is without a doubt one of the five catchiest songs of the decade, and the chief reason why the album makes the top 15. This is one of those songs that, as soon as it ends, you have the urge to play it over again. What starts off with a gripping but calm groove explodes at the one-minute mark where the intensity increases before the track keeps building from there. The peak doubles as my favorite non-word vocal of the decade, Paul Banks' "awww!" that comes 2:52 into the song. It probably doesn't mean a damn thing, but it just sounds so cool. The song is simply a big part of my life. I don't think I've had a party or road trip in the last six years that didn't include it somewhere.
We're in the top 15 now. One track simply isn't enough. "Narc" keeps the groove going and builds to its peak where Banks hollers "You should be in my space, you should be in my life!" Between the pounding "Not Even Jail" and blend of light guitars and heavy everything else on "C'mere," there are other worthy additions to the Interpol oeuvre. Again, never steering too far off the charted course.
It is worth nothing that the mid-00s saw a tremendous resurgence of Joy Division inspired, dark indie pop. You can pick your preferred branch between Editors, The Bravery, stellastarr*, The Killers, and The Rapture, just to name a few. But nobody did it with more panache or talent than these guys. Maybe it doesn't point to anything new, but putting this album on again reminded me how perfectly they crafted their driving intensity.
If Turn on the Bright Lights was about a night in Gotham, Antics is where we pick up the day after. In the end, this dark, monotonous music somehow rings beautifully, and it's that touch of additional brightness that makes this Interpol's best release. They are likely to be a band lost to their (retro) time. I don't think people will be clamoring for an Interpol reunion tour in 2020. But by doing this list, I reminded myself that this is an album worth returning to.
The audio stinks on this video, which is a shame. But play it anyway.
#16 - Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
#17 - Jens Lekman - Oh You're So Silent, Jens
#18 - Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
#19 - Band of Horses - Everything All the Time
#20 - The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!
#21 - Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
#22 - Mission of Burma - The Obliterati
#23 - Don Caballero - World Class Listening Problem
#24 - The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
#25 - Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon