There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
New York’s Interpol has taken a lot of guff for its overt resemblance to Joy Division, but that’s not fair: The band rips off Echo and the Bunnymen and the Smiths just as much. To be sure, singer Paul Banks’ voice does bear an uncanny resemblance to that of Ian Curtis, and the group members do look like a four-man troupe attempting a street-theater version of 24 Hour Party People. But whereas Joy Division specialized in a reverb-drenched claustrophobia that perfectly complemented Curtis’ not-waving-but-drowning vocals, Interpol gives Banks a swirly, My Bloody Valentine-like space in which to rant. Shored up by Samuel Fogarino’s all-over-the-place drumming, it’s a sound that Interpol can almost call its own. But not quite. The melody of “NYC” is almost a dead ringer for Echo’s “Bring On the Dancing Horses,” and “Say Hello to the Angels” is a shameless bite of Morrissey & Co.’s “This Charming Man”—so shameless, in fact, that it’s pointless to quibble about Interpol’s “homages.” That said, the group’s red-wine-and-reefer take on ’80s postpunk is not without its pleasures. “Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down,” for example, takes its own sweet time getting to the chorus, but when it does, it’s irresistible—Banks representing like Marlon Brando in pegged trousers, the rest of the band sounding like Low on crystal meth. And “Leif Erikson” shows off the beg-borrow-and-steal Interpol formula in a relatively succinct four minutes, spreading like suburbs from its starting point and stopping just short of a great big mall of a chorus. “She swears I’m a slave to the details/But if your life is such a big joke/Why should I care,” Banks sings, apropos of a million late-night mix tapes. Interpol may have an originality problem, but it’s not without, well, substance. —Andrew Beaujon