NYC's arresting Interpol expands its palette

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      Our Love to Admire (Capitol)

      The first truly exciting moment on Our Love to Admire comes at about the three-minute mark of the opening track, "Pioneer to the Falls", when singer Paul Banks announces "You fly straight into my heart/But here comes the falls" and the song explodes into a cascading Daniel Kessler guitar line, buoyed by what must be the most lush–damn near orchestral–backing heard on any Interpol recording to date. It's a fitting start to the New York band's major-label debut, which can be viewed as the hard-touring quartet's step out of the indie trenches and into rock's big league.

      Interpol's 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights , established the group as the nattily attired heir to Joy Division's postpunk gloom rock, and 2004's Antics added some serious hooks to the mix. Our Love to Admire is a logical step forward. With producer Rich Costey, the group has explored the possibilities of the recording studio, creating a rich and layered album full of headphone-friendly nuances, such as the shoegazing guitar textures on "No I in Threesome" and the music-for-airports ambient tonescape that closes "Wrecking Ball". On the other hand, Interpol can still strip a song down to its essentials when it needs to, as it does on the hard-charging first single, "The Heinrich Maneuver".

      The quality of Banks's lyrics is, as ever, a matter of taste: "I have a sequin for an eye/Pick a rose and hide my face/This is the bandit's life/It comes and goes and them's the breaks." There's no denying, however, that he continues to push himself in the vocal department, and his expanding range adds much to the disc's appeal.

      Our Love to Admire is an adventurous outing for an act that clearly knows more than one trick. And lest you think I'm going to finish this review without mentioning bassist Carlos Dengler's mustache and his newfound love of string ties: it's great to try out new styles, but when you start to resemble a young Col. Sanders, it makes your old gay-stormtrooper look seem like a work of sartorial genius. Oh, and your Italian greyhound is cute, but does it have to be in every photo?