INTERPOL "Interpol"

Grade: C-plus

Interpol made one really, really good album — 2002's "Turn Out the Bright Lights," a stylish update of the new-wave band Joy Division with sharper guitars and a little less gloom _ and has been rapidly shedding inspiration ever since. The New York City quartet once had an endless stream of good ideas; now it repeats one or two. On a great rock song like early Interpol breakthrough "Obstacle 1," with its devastating funk bass line, singer Paul Banks' metallic voice assumes cathartic power; on the unnaturally looped hooks throughout "Interpol" (Matador), he just sounds lost. He seems to be running in place throughout "Safe Without," right into a wall, singing, "I am safe without! I am safe without it!" over and over as guitarist Daniel Kessler falls in underneath. The next song, "Try It On," employs this strategy to similar effect with pianos and synths.

For the first few songs of its fourth album, Interpol sounds eager, hungry — "Success" has an eerie, propulsive spirit, especially when bassist Carlos Dengler bounces in; Banks channels Ozzy Osbourne's moan on the hymnlike "Lights," the only song in which repetition takes on dramatic effect; and "Barricade" begins with a triad of piercing guitar notes that recalls Joy Division or its predecessor, Television. That song is the fault line of the album, though; the triad turns into a flat drone, melding with Banks' scattered thoughts ("full speed/half-blind/full tilt/decline") and ultimately says nothing at all. After recording this album, Dengler announced he was leaving Interpol; maybe he knew something we can finally hear.


Grade: B-plus

Jerry Lee Lewis certainly enlists a killer bunch of guests on "Mean Old Man" (Verve). There's Mick and Keef on "Dead Flowers" and "Sweet Virginia," respectively. There's John Fogerty on "Bad Moon Rising." There's relative young 'uns Kid Rock — sounding like Steven Tyler — and Slash on "Rockin' My Life Away." Hey, the stellar guest list worked well on Lewis' 2006 album, "Last Man Standing," with Jimmy Page, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young among more than a dozen others. The Killer handles all lead vocals and piano, and this time he also duets with a few lady friends, including Sheryl Crow ("You Are My Sunshine") and Shelby Lynne ("Hold You in My Heart"), but when Mavis Staples joins him for "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," the church bells ring and you'll have tears in your eyes.


Sara Bareilles' "Kaleidoscope Heart" (Epic)

Robyn's "Body Talk, Part 2" (Cherry tree/Interscope)

Stone Sour's "Audio Secrecy" (Roadrunner)"

Anberlin's "Dark Is the Way: Light Is a Place" (Republic)

Boston Spaceships' "Our Cubehouse Still Rocks" (Guided by Voices)

— Newsday

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