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The majority of people who bought Lifehouse's debut album, 'No Name Face', probably did so on the back of 'Hanging by a Moment' - their lead single, and a rather successful one at that. There's no doubt it's a good song, sure, but what about the other 11 songs?
Well, the answer is positive. No one could truthfully say that this is a 'classic' album, or one that will remembered for all that long - but nonetheless there is a lot to like.
Not surprisingly, much of it is in a slightly less pop orientated mold to 'Hanging By A Moment'.
In this way, it feels like a traditional album, with some fast moving songs, some quieter ones, and the odd filler.
It's not indie rock, like many descriptions would lead you to believe, but I guess this is mainly due to the 'boy band' type vocals of Jason Wade. Another further problem with the voice is how distinct it is. This gives the sense of songs being 'samey', even when in reality they are more than deserving entities of their own.
The vocals also sound similar to 'The Calling', and for many this will be offputting, and merely symbolic of a time in the early 2000's when manufactured pop took on a slightly more subtle appearence.
Even so, the content of the songs is a redeeming factor. There are no absolute standouts, bar the lead single, but there is a lot of depth and consistency. There are no bad tracks on the album, just an unfortunate number of bland, average ones. My feeling is though that the more clever, intricate songs make this easier to overlook, and in the end this means that the quality shines through.
Overall then, a decent, consistent album, if hardly spectacular.
Think of a modern day, fresh faced Simon and Garfunkel. Then imagine a quirky Norweigen twang and a hint of broken English. This might come somewhat close to describing Kings of Convenience, who, while not entirely original, are certainly a refreshing alternative to other contemporary music.
So what of their second album, 'Riot On An Empty Street'? Well, the title should give a clue as to the sound, if my initial description didn't already. Just like 'Quiet Is The New Loud', their is a definite leaning towards the quiet, acoustic side of song - almost as if it would be the perfect soundtrack to a late night gathering of friends after the main party had died down and most hangers on had left.
Throughout the album, the emphasis is on subtle melodies, coded lyrics and a general vibe of quiet contemplation.
Each song on the album is intricate and well crafted in it's own right (I don't think there are any terrible songs on this album), but for me stand outs would include the beautiful 'Misread', the almost surprisingly danceabe 'I'd Rather Dance With You' and the comparatively bouncy 'Love Is No Big Truth'.
In saying that, there is much to like here. It is one of the few albums where I get something out of every song, and don't skip any. I am quite sure that a lot of people will feel the same. Unlike the more recent KOC album, this one is bridging on a masterpiece. It is by far their best album, and without doubt the best possible starting point for those not familiar with their work.
Riding high on the success of 2004's 'Hopes and Fears', Keane had to attempt tackling that most dreaded of endeavours - following their first album up with an equally successful second one. So were they able to?
Speaking from the outset, I think they did as good a job as could have been expected. The album maybe doesn't have the pop 'classics' of 'Somewhere Only We Know' and 'Everybody's Changing', but even for the cynics and haters, there is much to admire throughout it, if given the chance.
There is still some relative pop prowess found in the likes of 'Is It Any Wonder?' and 'Crystal Ball', but there also exists another layer of depth and surprising quality.
'A Bad Dream' and 'Nothing In My Way' are unexpectedly good songs, despite the inevitable (and possibly unfair) disadvantage in many people's eyes, of them being by Keane. The lyrics and melodies compliment eachother, and they will both be a lot of people's favourites.
Elsewhere, 'Broken Toy' and 'The Frog Prince' are far from the traditional fillers. Each has it's own distinct style, while at the same time keeping in tandem with the rest of the record.
There are a few tracks i'm not so keen on, such as 'Atlantic', 'Leaving So Soon?' and 'Hamburg Song', but overall I am quite impressed by the tone and lasting quality of this album. Several years on and I still give it the occassional listen, which is more than can be said for other Keane albums - especially those subsequent ones.
In conclusion, the album isn't strong across the board. Out of 12 songs, there are probably 3 or 4 that are quite weak. In saying that, the remaining tracks are of a very decent standard - a few of them are actually very good. So taking it as a whole, I think Keane can be pretty pleased with this effort, both in terms of commercial success, and in the critical response.
The Remote Part was meant to be Idlewild's breakthrough album. They had previously released the likes of Hope Is Important and 100 Broken Windows, which despite being critically well received, failed to make an impact commercially. The Remote Part, however, finally saw them reach some degree of chart success, with such high climbing singles as 'You Held The World In Your Arms' and 'American English'. These glimpses into the world of Idlewild got enough people excited so that the album did well too, and while it may never have led to the big places Idlewild (and it's fans) might have expected, it at least remains as the one time when they truly made a difference in the wider music scene.
The reason goes beyond just the chart success of the singles I mentioned. The fact is, there's a lot to like on this album. Even skipping the well known songs and digging a little deeper, there's definitely a more pop orientated flavour about this record.
Tracks such as Hiding Place (which went on to become a single, too), Tell Me Ten Words and In Remote Part / Scottish Fiction all add an air of accessibility about this album. There are still a few tracks rooted in the punk rock mindset, like A Modern Way Of Letting Go (another later single) and I Am What I Am Not, but overall the balance is more formiddable. There's pop, punk, rock and even the odd bit of mellow acoustic. It has everything a casual Idlewild could want, and plenty of reasons to get even more new fans on board.
It's only a shame then that follow up albums didn't continue the momentum, but that's a whole other story altogether.
In summary, this is a very decent album by a band reaching close to their potential. Serious fans might be put off by the mainstream success of the record, but I think most people can get over that and appreciate it for what it is - a good indie rock album that is very much worth checking out.
Empire of the Sun have emerged as one of the most exciting electronic acts of the past two years. Hailing from Australia, and formed from an amalgamation of The Sleepy Jackson and Pnau, there's much to like about this band, and much to feel positive about for it's future.
So what of they're first album, Walking on a Dream, which was one of the definitive albums of 2008, winning a host of acclaim and commercial success.
By now at least half of the tracks will be familiar to anyone who has followed their progress without buying the album. That's because Empire of the Sun have released a massive five singles from this record, which is quite something when there are only 10 tracks on it.
I'm talking of course about Standing On The Shore, Walking On A Dream, We Are The People, Half Mast and Without You - all of which are epic and fantastic in their own way. For me, personally, these five tracks have converted me from thinking all electro pop was rubbish, into becoming a massive new fan of the genre. They are wonderful pop songs - a real soundtrack to our time, and if you haven't checked out their equally interesting videos on youtube yet, I suggest you do so.
But what about the rest of the album? Well since there are only five songs left to pick over, it's won't take long to do just that.
The conclusion, sadly, isn't great. 'Country' is a brilliant instrumental track which is every bit as good as any of the singles, even despite it's lack of vocals.
Beyond this however, there isn't a lot.
Delta Boy, Tiger By My Side and The World are all irritating at best, and downright awful at worst. Swordfish Hotkiss Night is a little better, though well below the standard of the singles.
So there you have the answer. The singles were chosen for a reason. Each is excellent, but look to the album itself and there isn't a lot else to get excited about.
The sound of Empire of the Sun might make some people wish to check it out, and so will the desire to have all the singles in one place, but just bear in mind that all of the singles have since been re-mixed, so like a previous review I wrote, it may be better to listen to them individually on itunes a purchase your personal favourites.
As with many bands, each new album released shows a subtle but steady progression, either in a positive direction, or a not so good one. With Belle and Sebastian it's neither. Where exactly they're going is unknown, but it's obvious the style is changing - which is natural and expected.
With Dear Catastrophe Waitress it feels as if Belle and Sebastian have finally got fed up with their modest standing in the Scottish indie scene and decided to just go all out for pop success. Despite this, it's still distinctly Belle and Sebastian, which can never be too bad a thing.
The opening track, Step Into My Office Baby (and the lead single) set's the tone. It's playful, humerous and definitely confirming the pop direction.
Belle and Sebastian fans don't fear however, for the next five tracks (Dear Catastrophe Waitress, If She Wants Me, Piazza, New York Catcher, Asleep on a Sunbeam) are very much a new yet familiar glimpse of the Belle and Sebastian we all love. Yes, it's more upbeat and silly, but there's definitely enough to help you remember where they came from. It's also happens to be rather good, which helps a lot.
I'm A Cuckoo is equally sunny and bright. It seems like the band were in a much better mood when writing this album. Compared with the hint of melancholy and depression that pervaded previous records, this one feels positively happy.
Whether happy or sad, there's always at least one or two songs on any B&S album that are questionable, and on this one it's "You Don't Send Me" and "Roy Walker". Both annoy me, though they might be to some people's tastes.
Other than this, the latter half of the album is very special indeed. Lord Anthony is more mellow and clever, If You Find Yourself Caught In Love is summery and lovely, while Wrapped Up In Books and Stay Loose are two of my alltime Belle and Sebastian favourites.
Overall i'd say the decision to go pop has remarkably worked. The album was received positively by fans and critics alike. It also, for the first time, came with a decent amount of commercial success. I therefore think this is the definitive Belle and Sebastian album of the 2000's. I say that because the 1990's B&S and the 2000's one feel distinctly different. Both are good in their own ways, but this is definitely the pinnacle of the latter. Highly recommended.
Storytelling isn't like other Belle and Sebastian albums. Randomly coming across in a shop, there would be nothing to tell you so, but this album is in fact the soundtrack to a movie of the same name. What's even more interesting (or potentially offputting) is how little of the album was used on the film - about 6 minutes in fact.
Presumably then, Belle and Sebastian decided not to waste their efforts and instead release it for die hard fans. And when I say die hard fans, I really mean that you must be one in order to invest in this.
It's not that it's bad, it's just far removed from what many people would call a 'proper' Belle and Sebastian record. There are only about 3 or 4 regular songs on it, with the rest either instrumentals or excerpts from the movie. Furthermore, the instrumentals themselves are a variation from what is essentially the same couple of song - really fulfilling the overall billing as a movie score. A lot of it therefore has the feel of a being very 'samey'.
Fiction, Freak, F*ck this Sh*t, Night Walk, Consuelo and Consuelo Leaving are all closely related. Then there are the four Dialogue tracks, which while quirky, do feel like extreme attempts at filling the time.
The weird thing is though, it somehow sounds quite good. The music itself is rather nice and listenable. The four original tracks, too - Black and White Unite, Scooby Driver, Big John Shaft, and Storytelling are all very decent Belle and Sebastian songs. You almost wouldn't know that they were tailored for a soundtrack.
With a total of 18 tracks, it sounds a lot longer than it actually is. The total running time is really just 34 minutes.
So while I'd definitely say there's some quality here, i'd question the value of buying the album as a whole. A good idea instead might be to listen to the individual mp3s and then buy the ones you like on itunes.
'Fold Your Arms Child, You Walk Like A Peasant' was actually the first Belle and Sebastian album I ever owned. I just happened to see it one day in a record store and pick it up, uninformed and not knowing what to expect. For this reason it'll always have a special corner in my music head, because even though i've since come to own every other Belle and Sebastian album, this was my first encounter with them. Other people rate it as one of the worst, but I am still of the opinion that it's underrated.
'I Fought In A War' is an elegant song. It's not the sort of song you listen to time after time, but if you do every once in a while, it's easy to appreciate the quality of it.
'The Model' is of a different mold. It never really seems to go anywhere, yet that in itself is ok, for the whole point of it is the lyrics - which are almost like a short story.
Now we come to the infamous 'Beyond The Sunrise', which has been slated by the majority of Belle and Sebastian fans, and is one of the main reasons why this album isn't liked as much. Listen to it and I think you'll agree with the general feeling. It's not that easy to like. Good thing then, that the skip button was invented.
Thankfully the next song, 'Waiting For The Sun To Rise' more than makes up for it. The female vocals of Sarah Martin are wonderful, while the overall song gives off a mysterious, seasonal vibe.
Don't Leave The Light On Baby is another reason for the album's less than enthusiastic reviews. It is slow, dull and drags terribly.
The Wrong Girl up's the tone a little. In saying that, it's still not that strong compared with most other Belle and Sebastian songs.
The next song, The Chalet Lines is a slow piano number, which besides it's at times shocking lyrics, is a bit drab.
Thankfully there's much more to like about Nice Day For A Sulk, Women's Realm, Family Tree and There's Too Much Love.
While the album has a few dodgy moments midway through, it definitely ends strongly. In fact the last 2 songs are some of Belle and Sebastian's most solid across all their albums.
In conclusion, i'd say that I was unfortunate not to pick up a better Belle and Sebastian album when I was randomly browsing. I think there are stronger ones out there, with this one better reserved for serious fans.
Even so, I still rate it. There is much to like if you can get over the true awfulness of one or two songs.
Two years on from the flurry of activity that accompanied 'Tigermilk', and soon after 'If You're Feeling Sinister', Belle and Sebastian granted their fans respite with a new dose of material.
The Boy With The Arab Strap has the feel of a second album; and there are two reasons for it. One, both of 1996's releases came within close proximity of eachother, and two, it does feel at times as if the band are finding their way a bit, trying to capture the balance between the winning formula they had before and offering something new at the same time.
The result is very enjoyable, if at times unspectacular.
'It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career' is perfectly listenable and pleasant, but it's hardly in competition with what's gone before.
'Sleep The Clock Around' marks an attempt at experimentation, though whether it works is somewhat questionable.
'Is It Wicked Not To Care' changes the direction entirely, most notibly because it's the first time 'Belle', or Isobel Campbell as she's usually known, gets to sing. It's a lovely, intimate piece, and I still think of it as one of Belle and Sebastian's most special of all time.
'Ease Your Feet Into The Sea' seems to flow perfectly from the previous song. It's not quite as beautiful, but it's still great to listen to.
Then comes 'A Summer Wasting' and 'Seymour Stein', which make for a third and fourth good song in a row. If the start of the album was leading to questions, at this point it seems right back on track.
Sadly the trend fails to carry on. A Space Boy Dream is downright weird. It's funny in a very bizarre way, but a lot of people will find it offputting.
Dirty Dream Number Two and the title track, The Boy With The Arab Strap improve the mood drastically. They are feel good numbers - not stand outs, however definitely a welcome change.
Chickfactor and Simple Things follow, and like other songs, these two seem to fall in perfectly. Neither can be described as outstanding, but at this point there's definitely a great balance going on between slow and fast, downbeat and positive.
Finally, the Rollercoaster Ride, the final song, ends the album on a lowkey note. Like other Belle and Sebastian songs, the beauty of this one lies in the simplicity, and I believe the album as a whole can be seen in this way.
Ignoring a few disappointing tracks, most of this album is like a refreshing afternoon nap. It's never going to be more than what it is, but somehow that's enough. It's Belle and Sebastian, and that means it is still better than what a lot of other artists are doing. Maybe not Tigermilk or IYFS, though still pleasing for the ears.
It was never going to be an easy task, following up 'Tigermilk', especially so soon after it's release. But Belle And Sebastian have never been the kind of band to rest on their laurels, and this second effort proves that in the most emphatic way possible.
The lyrics are once again quirky, clever and well constructed. The melodies are yet again infectious and memorable. All the ingredients are once more in place for another classic Belle and Sebastian album.
Is it better than Tigermilk? Well it's hard to say, but if there is a difference in quality, the amount is miniscule.
Stars of Track and Field is the first track on the album, and a very suitable choice. While it may not be a spectacular song, it is very intelligently written and rather funny in parts. It's also in the same recognizable Belle and Sebastian style.
Seeing Other People again displays the offbeat humour and use of situational story telling that Belle and Sebastian employ across many of their works.
Much of the irony and silliness continues into 'Me and the Major', which is just a further example of the lighthearted approach that Belle and Sebastian translate so well into thoroughly listenable songs.
The next three tracks, 'Like Dylan in the Movies', 'Fox in the Snow', 'Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying', bring the emphasis back to what Belle and Sebastian do best - sensitive, contemplative, yet unbearably catchy.
Then there's the title track of the album, 'If You're Feeling Sinister', which starts with background noise of a school playground and slowly transitions a melancholy piano, before starting with the song proper. It's a beautifully nostalgic piece, and one of the best in Belle and Sebastian's entire catalogue.
Mayfly is the quiet kid of the bunch. It hangs around in an unassuming matter. Even so, it's pleasant and worth getting to know.
The Boy Done Wrong Again and Judy and The Dream of Horses are the two final songs on the album, and the two i've listened to the least. Each are nice, if a bit different from that proceeding it.
Overall 'If You're Feeling Sinister' captures a brilliant balance between the subtle quietude we've come to expect from Belle and Sebastian and the hint of humour and good feeling that is just waiting to burst out. It's a joy to listen to, and a must buy for any fans, and... well, anyone!
Some may be compelled by the suggestive album cover, others may be pulled in by the fact it was Belle and Sebastian's first album. Whatever the case, this is a fine album, as well as a wonderful introduction to one of Scotland's best love indie outfits.
Don't expect any high octave stuff on this album - it's all a little low key, subtle and intricate. Instruments are used intelligently and lyrics crafted carefully and poetically. It feels summery, new and nostalgic all at the same time - and this despite it's original 1996 release date.
Right away from the first track we have a good idea of what Belle and Sebastian is all about. 'The State I Am In' captures the essence of Glasgow on a Spring day. It's upbeat yet strangely calming. There is a studenty, young persons vibe, as if the everything is yet to be decided.
Expectations and She's Losing it follow on perfectly. Again, these are quiet numbers, grounded in detail, quirkiness, and tenacity. There is also a definite hint of humour scattered throughout.
You're Just A Baby is one of my less favourite tracks, though plenty will like it. It feels more like something from the 60's or 70's, but in a uniquely Belle and Sebastian way.
Electronic Renaissance definitely has it's roots in an earlier time. As the name suggests, it's an electronic number, which has an experimental vibe about it - as if B&S are just doing whatever comes to them. This natural, offbeat angle adds to the worth of the song, especially when contrasted against the more conventional folk songs surrounding it.
I Could Be Dreaming is the third in a trio of jazzier, more pop orientated songs, and likeable for it.
With We Rule The School and My Wandering Days Are Over, we then return to the more delicate side of Belle and Sebastian. As expected, each are perfectly balanced and distinct enough to be memorable in their own right.
I Don't Love Anyone grants one final air of positivity before the album is out, this despite the title; while Mary Jo returns to the feeling of humbleness and situational observation - almost like it's about a friend of the band.
Overall, I'm very glad to own this album. There are no absolute stand outs, or singles. Instead it's like an old fashioned album - with each song carefully knitted onto another in the ideal order. They compliment each other, flow naturally, and most pertitently of all - they sound good.
The Hour of Bewilderbeast was Badly Drawn Boy's first full length album. It's slightly old now, having been released in 2000, but I believe it stands the test of time.
There are 18 tracks on the album, which is above average, however don't be fooled. Some are short instrumentals, others are bordering on being disappointing.
The Shining, for example, is rather straightforward and one dimensional, though some people love it.
Everybody's Stalking has more of an interesting vibe. It has a pleasant chorus and it involves Damon Gough singing, so that's always a plus.
The third track, Bewilderbeast, is one of those short instrumentals I mentioned. It's nice enough, if not terribly special.
Fall in a River and Camping Next to Water elevate the album in terms of quality and durability. They are both catchy little numbers, if hardly classics.
Meanwhile, Stone on the Water is the third song in a row with a water theme, and is another slow but interesting burner.
Another Pearl and Body Rap are where Damon Gough's silly side comes out. Neither are particularly special or memorable, with Body Rap being more annoying than anything.
On the other hand, it can also be viewed as a part lead-in to the true masterpiece of the album - the utterly timeless 'Once Around The Block'. For me, and a lot of other people, this song is an absolute classic and worth owning the album for on it's own. It's simple, repeditive, yet unbelievably lovely. If you've heard it you'll know what i'm talking about.
Normally it would be a bad thing to say 'this is as good as it gets', but since Once Around the Block is so good, it's not surprising.
'This Song' and 'Bewilderbeast 2' do feel like fillers, however Cause a Rockslide, Blistered Heart, Magic in the Air and Say It Again are all nice.
Disillusion, as well, is where the album gets a bit of dance-ability.
I know i've missed out a few songs, but that's because they add little to the overall tapestry. Pissing in the Wind, for example, brings the album down a notch instead of raising it up.
All in all, Bewilderbeast is an original, timeless joy to listen to. Yes, there are some fillers and one or two annoying tracks, but taken against the backdrop of the songs that enrich it and last way beyond their years, it is a wonderful first effort from Damon Gough. It's also still one of his best.
At The Drive-In are a band you might have heard namechecked by people between the age of 21-30, but one you probably haven't heard any material from yourself. So to give some brief background information: they are a post hardcore outfit from the Southern US who broke up in the early 2000's. 'Relationship of Command' remains their best known (and best loved) album and therefore the perfect place to start for anyone wanting to get introduced.
If you're not sure what to expect, a rude awakening might be in order. For upon the very first listen of this album, it's likely you'll be confused, overwhelmed, deafened and yet somehow intruiged.
The first track 'Arc Arsenal' bursts into life with a mishmash of heavy drums, unforgiving guitars and piercing vocals. The lyrics make little sense, and the melody, while not without structure, might initially seem very very weird indeed.
Pattern Against User sounds more like a traditional punk song, but still retains its basis in At The Drive-In's meandering, high octave style.
The third song, One Armed Scissor, is the song you've most likely heard before if you've heard any. It's their most successful, long lasting song, and it's easy to see why. The structure is once more rooted in energetic punk, while the lyrics make no more sense than other songs. It is, however, a wonderful example of beautiful chaos.
So if you're not put off by now, the next song, Sleepwalk Capsules might just do it (or clinch your interest if you like it).
Thankfully it tones down a bit after this. Invalid Letter Department is a comparitively mellow song compared to the rest, and a rather clever, listenable one too. It's still random and some would say silly, but I like it.
The breath for air doesn't last long. Mannequin Republic, Enfilade and Rolodex Propoganda all continue the messy, hypnotic brilliance.
Quarintined is again an overdue break (in some respects), while Cosmonaut quells the relative quiet.
Finally, the last two tracks, Non Zero Possibility, and Catacombs are a bit better balanced, with more depth, but still with their fair share of shouting.
Altogether, the image you might have after this review of craziness and anarchy is a pretty accurate picture. If that isn't your style, you'll find it very hard to get into Relationship of Command. If it is, or you're opened minded to new genres and sub-genres, it may however take a special spot in your favourites list.
All too often, bands start with a burst of creative genius (and commercial success), but slide drastically down the scale with each album that they throw out. While this isn't exactly the case with Interpol's third offering, the trend appears to be under way. The slip isn't as dramatic as many others, but it definitely seems to be happening.
The first song, Pioneer to the Falls, almost has an air of uncertainty and limbo about it - as if they have run out of ideas. It's a decent song, but hardly memorable.
No I in Threesome continues the unfortunateness. Again, it's a likeable song, but the lyrics and overall tone leave a lot to be desired. It begins to feel like Interpol are finally starting to repeat themselves.
The Scale sadly fails to improve matters. It's a bit of a dreary, uninspiring song that feels a lot longer than 3 minutes. Not terrible, but not great.
The Heinrich Manuever picks things up, but by this time it already feels too late - besides the fact that it sounds too much like a deliberate single and not something that's going to add to the album as a whole.
Mammoth is a little better. However it's still lacking when compared to the brilliance of earlier albums.
Pace is the Trick is where the album finally comes to life. Not only does it match anything they've previously accomplished, it feels like a bright new direction altogether. It's just a shame then that they don't explore it further.
All Fired Up feels like an attempt to be a bit too trendy, and little more.
Rest My Chemistry, again, showcases a different, more appealing side to Interpol. The subject of the song is far from uplifting, however the stucture and sound of it seem new and interesting. Once more though, it's a shame they this approach isn't further developed.
That's because if we thought it was average near the start of the album, it gets even less impressive near the end. Who Do You Think and Lighthouse are well below the normal standard, while Wrecking Ball just about scrapes into the "atmospheric" realm.
Overall, not bad, but disappointing and not altogether surprising.
Being a massive fan of Interpol's first offering, Turn on the Bright Lights, I was very eager to hear what they had devised with that all too often cursed sophomore album.
What I found was, that while many contemporary outfits failed at the second and perhaps most important hurdle, Interpol cleared it. They may not have excelled or left people in awe, but they did what was extremely difficult - follow up the brilliant TOTBL with something almost as good.
The same elements are present - Paul Banks distinguished vocals, Kessler's intricate swirling guitar keys, Carlos D's perfect bass lines and puzzling lyrical ramblings, presumably brought to the table by everyone (well, mostly Banks).
So, with all the same ingredients in place, is it better than TOTBL? Probably not. Is it still somewhat addictive and wonderfully memorable? Yes!
Yet there's something else going on too. Following "Next Exit" - reminiscent to an extent of NYC, Interpol do something different. They become a bit more commercial and pop orientated. "Evil", "Slow Hands" and "C'Mere" are all good, likeable songs. But there's a feeling that they're in there specifically to act as singles. Whereas TOTBL didn't seem to care about "singles" and crafted the album as a whole, these three songs sound deliberate, which is fair enough, if marking a slight but predictable change in approach.
Even so, there is still plenty for hardcore Interpol fans to feel all warm about. NARC is a wonderful example of Interpol delving into a world of dark nights, nightclub lights and the more seedy, seductive side of rock. It, along with Public Pervert, Not Even Jail and Take You On A Cruise are what I prefer about this Interpol outing. They are more lasting than the pop tunes, have more depth and feeling, and more importantly, feel like they create whole stories of their own, in the same way "Stella" from the first album did.
It may not be quite as perfect as Bright Lights, but it's better than what most other bands can offer - and that's what the majority of fans were hoping for. Interpol haven't done much wrong with this album, and if it hadn't been for their first one, it would also be a candidate for one of the albums of the decade.