The curse of the sophomore record is legendary. Yet for most bands, the second long-player is richer than the first -- the raw energy of the debut ripened, deepened, expanded into a mature voice. Think Radiohead and The Bends. The danger of that second record, consequently, is that a band's idiom can't sustain much expansion; witness the Strokes, whose follow-up to Is This It? stuck to formula and left the ripening to fleeting gestures.
Interpol, it seemed, was backed into the same corner as the Strokes. The tense, corset-tight songs on 2002's Turn on the Bright Lights were perfect, but not durable -- they already felt like snaps ready to burst. What's impressive about Antics is how much more music Interpol has managed to stuff inside its sound, opening up the arrangements and often leading with melody instead of bass lines and deigning to the major key. This, history will record, is their Flaming Lips album. Well, not exactly. But when Paul Banks starts singing some goober "Love is all" line in "Public Pervert," or when songs ebb into gloomily psychedelic instrumentals, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is what Wayne Coyne might have sounded like, if he'd grown up in a grotto in East Berlin and worshiped Ian Curtis.