Interpol - The Other Side of Make-Believe Music Album Reviews

Interpol - The Other Side of Make-Believe Music Album Reviews
With slight changes in disposition and geography, the New York band strives toward a refreshed sound and outlook on its seventh record.

After 25 years of fronting one of rock’s most recognizable brands, Paul Banks is not merely the vocalist for Interpol. He is Paul Banks, the Voice of Interpol, a character he has embodied with increasing panache. Maybe that’s always been the case, but especially since Interpol’s return to Matador cemented their status as an A-list cult band, Banks has slyly played on the reality that every one of their albums will be taken by a locked-in audience as a referendum on Interpol. I have to imagine a lyricist as self-aware and witty as Banks has read the tempered praise that has followed everything the band has done since 2007’s Our Love to Admire, and within the first couplet of The Other Side of Make-Believe, he has flexed mastery of this craft: “Still in shape, my methods refined,” he croons on “Toni,” a lyric that absolutely knows it’s going to included in just about every single review of their seventh album to speak to Interpol’s refreshed outlook and its modest success.

More important is the actual first line of The Other Side of Make-Believe: “Flame down the Pacific Highway.” Though nearly every one of their peers who was likewise deemed a quintessential New York rock artist in the 2000s has made their way to the West Coast, the concept of Interpol doing the same triggered some kind of mental 404 error. If not slumming in pornographic subways with shady butchers and catatonic sex toy love-joy divers, what would Paul Banks really be? “On the streets of Cozumel/Where the faces glow/I would gladly give my life to be there,” he replies on “Gran Hotel.” Granted, Interpol has achieved a godlike status in Mexico, but the change in disposition as well as geography is revolutionary for a band who’d otherwise only been capable of incremental sonic change.

Yet, like a massive cruise ship, only a few minor shifts in coordinates can eventually send them off course. “Toni” is the heretofore-inconceivable “Interpol California song,” swapping ambient synth washes for a plinking piano, slacking the eighth-note grid just the tiniest bit, allowing Banks’ voice to relax into a world-weary but satisfied tone. Even if the optimistic bent of The Other Side of Make-Believe is more implied than literal, “Toni” lets in enough sunshine and seabreeze for “Fables” to follow with what Banks calls Interpol’s first “summer jam.” I doubt they intended “Fables” to do battle for Hot 97 supremacy against Bad Bunny or Doja Cat, or even a pop song playing against type a la “Friday I’m in Love.” Nonetheless, it does tease out some of the influences that had been suppressed within Banks’ main gig: a love of boomin’ system hip-hop and the most memorable melody he’s penned in ages. Ironically, it sounds more in line with the kind of festival-topping indie rock that Dave Fridmann helped steward before he all but tanked the production of 2018’s Marauder.

Within these first two tracks, there’s a germ of something more intriguing than a return to form: a latter-day Interpol record where the spirit and the sound are finally in alignment. Though the fully-formed aura that Interpol projected into the elegiac atmosphere of post-9/11 New York City has been chipped away like a disintegration tape by dubious side projects, inessential studio albums, and a reconsideration of the indie culture that propped them up, they all have raised the opportunity for Interpol to take on a pathos of post-punk agitators easing into wisened, witty elder statesmanship—maybe like Nick Cave or, hell, By the Way-era Red Hot Chili Peppers. Banks does seem up for this task, repeatedly leveraging his reputation to sell lines that would be ridiculous coming from anyone else—rhyming the title of “Big Shot City” with “girl you lookin’ gritty,” “You’re truly erupting too hard/That’s why you’re a sizable god.”

But like so much of Interpol’s work since Our Love to Admire, the spark in The Other Side of Make-Believe is subsumed in a gray expanse of Interpol Music, which has largely remained undisturbed by a revolving cast of bassists, auteur producers, and the passage of 20 years. Alan Moulder and Flood are at least better suited to Interpol’s strengths than previous charges like Rich Costey and Fridmann. The duo’s work with the likes of Depeche Mode, Curve, and Nine Inch Nails are about one degree of separation from the band’s enduring influences. Though drummer Sam Fogarino claims Flood was trusted to “hyperbolize our best qualities,” he does so on an a la carte basis on songs that largely betray their origin written remotely in different parts of the world. Daniel Kessler’s sonic structures remain instantly identifiable and also interchangeable, a batch of “Interpol-type beats.” Though working at nearly the same tempo throughout The Other Side of Make Believe, Fogarino drops some much-needed math into the rhythms of “Greenwich” and “Into the Night,” though neither finds any kind of melodic footing. Too often, the trio sounds like they’re writing over or past each other instead of locking in.

Compared to the “refined methods” Banks describes in “Toni,” far less attention has been given to the meta self-evaluation on the closing “Go Easy (Palermo)”: “I’ll keep pushing forward/All the obstacles in my way have been falling.” Even if Turn on the Bright Lights still overshadows the majority of their work—and with its 20th anniversary months away, it will do so even more now—a band at Interpol’s stature mostly needs to talk a good game, assuring they’re still engaged enough to bring a good narrative and 20 or so minutes of new material to a career-spanning setlist. This is made clear by the most Paul Banks of Paul Banks lines on The Other Side of Make-Believe. “All along I was different/’Cuz my nature made me great,” he sings, leaving just enough time to raise the question of “is this guy for real?” And then, the punchline: “But not that great,” a nod from a wise band that knows its limitations.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Interpol - The Other Side of Make-Believe Music Album Reviews Interpol - The Other Side of Make-Believe Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, July 26, 2022 Rating: 5

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