Interpol with Secret Machines at the Docks (11 Polson), Wednesday (October 13), $20. 416-461-3625, www.rootmeansquare.ca. Rating: NNNNN
If you're a band that breaks with your first album, the follow-up disc is like the naked fat man standing quietly in the corner of the room: a mildly threatening, disconcerting presence you try to ignore.
If you're Interpol, the NYC post-wave quartet who rocketed to indie cred stardom before the release of their first album - 2002's Turn On The Bright Lights, which instantly canonized the band as the inheritors of new wave's most coveted laurels - the experience is akin to being at a party wall-to-wall with naked fat men where you're the lone cat sporting the pinstripes.
So it's shocking that Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler, speaking from San Francisco a week after the release of their new album, Antics, seems genuinely blasé about how the sophomore material fares under scrutiny.
"We were aware that our process would be challenged by the constant interruptions of touring and so on," he says. "We started working on the new songs shortly after we finished Bright Lights. It was hard enough to adjust to making good music while balancing the pressures of touring; there wasn't any room to worry about anything else.
"Most of the battles were happening between us," he adds. "We were trying to adjust how we made songs, which kept us from paying attention to external concerns. So even though it's the product of very different circumstances, Antics is as insular a record as Bright Lights, as free of any pressures except creative ones."
The sophomore album is a more spacious and buoyant treatment of their ideas than the now iconic Turn On The Bright Lights. The instruments cascade through a far less claustrophobic environment and, though the arrangements are orchestrated every bit as tightly, the songs breathe in ways that the Interpol of old never attempted.
"A lot has to do with being more confident in the studio," Kessler offers. "The production helped keep the album lighter and warmer-sounding.
"I think the new songs are snappier - they're much more precise and the arrangements are deliberately honed to be concise. We also felt comfortable letting the different voices in the songs exist more separately."
Ironically, while the vocal and instrumental arrangements on Antics are so tight that they sound like a single voice, the band members found enough confidence to step away from each other as individual musicians, resulting in a far less oppressive, airier vibe.
"On the first record we were still feeling out how to make music together," Kessler explains. "It was about getting to a place where, as a band, we sounded as cohesive as possible.
"With Antics, we had two years of touring together, so it was easy to loosen up a little. "3 firstname.lastname@example.org