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Interpol faces a tough challenge: how to top its rich, 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, an album that imported the enlightened desperation of Thatcher-era Manchester to our shores. Sophomore efforts have always been the fodder of scourge. Such is the dilemma of call and response, and hence the name of album deux, Antics. The album lifts the band's veil of anguish, exposing something cynical yet sincere.

While Antics is unmistakably dark and somber, it lacks the ship-is-sinking-and-we'll-be-the-first-to-go-down-with-it bravado of Turn on the Bright Lights. It also doesn't rock nearly as hard, and although "Evil" comes pretty darn close, one of the record's biggest drawbacks is the lack of an instahit like "Obstacle 1" or "PDA." Interpol has matured and avoided the sophomore slump, dispelling all suspicion of being goth-lite. -- Kelly Shindler

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