Music » Livewire

Interpol

Wednesday, September 4, at the Grog Shop.

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Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to give the Strokes credit for cracking open the N.Y.C. music scene for all to see and A&R execs to sign. And though most outlets have called these bands followers of the Strokes, the mod men of Interpol, for one example, have been gigging at least as long as Julian Casablancas and company, and playing to the same torn-T-shirt and black-rimmed-glasses crowd.

The idea that Interpol "follows" the Strokes is accidentally apt, however. Pull the darkest bass hooks out of the Strokes' bouncy numbers, ride them down the mountain straight to hell, and that's where Interpol's sound begins, echoing in microcosm the transition from Television-era punk to early new wave. Interpol's sublimely moody debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, is redolent of such Factory bands as Joy Division (and not only because frontman Daniel Kessler sounds eerily like Ian Curtis), but lusher, more invitingly melodic, and still squarely categorizable as rock.

And live, Kessler casts a cult-of-personality spell, with wave upon wave of distorted guitar throwing muscle behind his dystopic vocals. Meanwhile, the Wire-like rhythms tack up the morphine drip. These dudes could kick your ass, but they'll take a pass: It might mess up their suits. Neither a band of new romantics nor shoegazers nor post-punks, Interpol steals ideas from all these movements, synthesizing them into a sound both familiar and new. Kind of like the Strokes, now that you mention it, but different.

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