WITH SO MANY BANDS trying to out Interpol each other, and siding with style over substance, the Austin-based I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness are close to falling in the same trap. But there's something here that keeps me from lumping them in with the terrible likes of Panic! at the Disco and She Wants Revenge. While those bands ride out the wave, capitalizing on the demand for more, more, more Interpol, the difference here is that ILYBICD would have grown and broke through with or without the Joy Division resurrection revolution.

For now, the name isn't important—let's get past it. We're interested in sound, stance, and aesthetic. ILYBICD draws water from an '80s, synth-pop well, dug in the time of Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. So, yeah, there's like 10 thousand bands that are doing the same thing right now, right? That's true, but the difference with ILYBICD is that it's totally irony free. They're not merely borrowing the good parts for distinction; they're attempting to stand beside their '80s brethren and look them in the eye as equals. As for their stance, this where the band name provides some clues. In the singing and lyrics, desperation and longing radiates out from a slow-burning core, the "I Love You, But..." part; underneath flows a black sewer of gloom and heavy, synthetic used-oil sludge, the "... I've Chosen Darkness" part.

They build a bleak world, casting out images of industrial steel framework, billowing black clouds of factory smoke. This would be the perfect soundtrack for a documentary on the atmospheric effects of air pollution and its role in causing global warming. Which doesn't make you leap off your chair and run outside with your roller-skates and bubblegum, I know, but that's just how they roll.