It's true: A fine tailored Italian suit and an immaculately sharp haircut will go a long way. Just ask the boys in Interpol. Since their explosion onto the scene in 2002, they've been around the world and back, and it seems no one can stop talking about their sleek style. But wait, we're talking about a rock band here; who cares about style? What's fashion have to do with music? Everything.
Interpol has not only created two solid full-length albums in the past three years; they've molded an archetype. Their flashy threads tease and hint at some deeper persona, while dark, melancholic, post-punk reverb sounds lace the shoes of their image. Interpol is somewhat moody, undeniably tight, and tied into a new wave modernist genre that classifies them as an indie rock band with mainstream success. But not to be misunderstood, Interpol's frontman Paul Banks has publicly assured that the suits aren't just a costume; if the band split tomorrow, the theory is that they'd still be walking around in fancy three pieces. The style is just nice wrapping for the package.
Interpol formed at NYU in 1998 when guitarist Daniel Kessler recruited classmates Carlos Dengler (bass) and Banks, with the later addition of Sam Fogarino on drums (to replace original drummer Greg Drudy). The band found fame in 2002 with the release of Turn on the Bright Lights, which propelled them quickly into rock-star status and nonstop touring. They followed up with the highly anticipated release Antics in September of 2004, receiving immediate praise and nods onto dozens of top 10 lists for the year. Interpol's brief stopover in Denver next week comes during a whirlwind U.S. tour sandwiched between recent Asian travel and a future European tour in the spring.
True to the nature of the spotlight, Interpol's tidy image has also earned the band a fair share of criticism and nit-picking. Some fans have spoken out against Interpol's choice to license a couple of their tunes to a Pepsi commercial and an episode of Friends la Modest Mouse and The Shins, who are guilty of similar corporate sponsorship. In the end, does commercial success lessen the integrity of the music, or can quality stand apart and above immersion into the big machine?
Many esoteric critics have rewarded Interpol for their rich, substantive songwriting whereas others accuse the group of washing over failed romanticism with bleak guitar riffs. Just as the band's style sparks intrigue, their lyrics incite indie debate on par with "What would Ben Gibbard do?" or "Franz Ferdinand does it better." Kessler compares Interpol more to Radiohead regarding the emotional content of their songwriting and cites Fugazi as a primary influence on the band, though others categorize Interpol as a Joy Division knockoff synonymous with early REM and The Cure.
Sample some lyrics; let your own emo-cheese-alarm be the judge: Is "I wish I could eat the salt off your lost faded lips" too much ("Obstacle 1," Turn on the Bright Lights)? Try: "I submit my incentive is romance/I watch the pole dance of the stars/we rejoice cuz the hurting is so painless/from the distance of passing cars" ("Slow Hands," Antics). Of course, you'll need musical accompaniment to register a fair opinion, so why not hit the Fillmore before making a final decision.
Interpol with Blonde Redhead
Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St., Denver
Wednesday, Feb. 9, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $24 general admission, ages 16 and up
Call 303/837-1482 or visit www.fillmoreauditorium.com for more information.