Interpol – The Other Side of Make-Believe
Like so many other releases in 2022, Interpol’s latest album was conceived entirely in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and various lockdowns, which forced a shift in the way they worked. Where the band would usually write live during rehearsal sessions, the trio of vocalist Paul Banks, guitarist Daniel Kessler and drummer Sam Fogarino were forced to work in isolation, developing their own individual sounds before coming together and recording with veteran producers Flood (who has most famously worked with artists such as Depeche Mode, U2 and New Order) and Alan Moulder (who’s worked with artists such as Nine Inch Nails, The Cure and My Bloody Valentine to name a few) in a North London studio. The result: an album from an older, sharper and more refined version of Interpol, but one that too often rests on its laurels.
Tracks like the album opener and first single Toni indicate a departure from the gloomy atmosphere of their previous work, and you can go as far as to say that with Toni, Banks has opted to sub out his signature cynicism for a few sparse glints of optimism. “I like to see them win / It’s my kind of aspiration / Like it’s going in the right direction / That’s to me” he murmurs, amidst the introduction of the subtle trickle of piano keys, Fogarino’s pulsating drumbeat and Bank’s own superb bass-line. Following the trend is Fables, with its free-flowing, soothing choral run highlighted by Kessler’s drifting guitar rhythms and Bank’s intimate, sleepy vocals, which stands out as one of the album’s best offerings. Something’s Changed, a track that switches out Kessler’s guitar entirely for piano to create a melancholic entry, with wispy vocals, before building up to the impending clash of drums that so often stand at the forefront of Interpol’s work, thanks to the talents of Fogarino.
The album is at its best with Renegade Hearts: a twisty, spiralling track with a bridge that’s fuelled by Kessler’s winding guitar and the repeated descending murmur of “For one alone again / For one alone”, before leading into more upbeat choral lines that channel the best of Echo and the Bunnymen. Meanwhile, other entries too often struggle to stand out from the mix, and the cyclical guitar sections and the mid-tempo pace of the album at times begins to blur the lines between tracks; Into The Night and Greenwich fall to these excesses.
The Other Side of Make-Believe is undoubtedly Interpol’s greatest attempt at an uplifting album to date, and whilst the Manhattan trio teeter on the brink of breaking new ground, the result instead is a subdued reinvention. Now seven albums and a quarter-of-a-century into their career, with a dedicated fan base and a firmly entrenched cult status, it’s not difficult to understand why Interpol chose not to depart too far from the sound of their earlier work.
The Other Side of Make-Believe is released on 15th July 2022. For further information or to order the album visit Interpol’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Toni here: