The late career resurgence of Interpol has produced some of the boldest, most uncompromising work of their career. 2010’s self-titled may not have been appreciated at the time, but that record – which saw the band resume their relationship with Matador, while losing bass player Carlos D – marked the beginning of a new chapter, with 2014’s ‘El Pintor’ and (particularly) 2018’s ‘Marauder’ winning excellent reviews, thanks to their ragged songwriting and beautifully executed atmospherics.
‘The Other Side Of Make-Believe’ continues this arc, and it could well represent the New York band’s finest music since their debut album. A record of rare unity, it depicts cityscapes shot in monochrome, yet amid its cinematic grandeur Interpol to remain to summon the dirt, the grit of the everyday. ‘Toni’ is a probing opener, the charming piano introduction recalling their own ‘Untitled’ some two decades ago. Interpol then lean into the dynamic yet urgent ‘Fables’, its morse code guitar sending messages of abandon out into the world. The greyscale tones that sweep across ‘Into The Night’ are broadened a little on ‘Mr Credit’, the first burst of sunshine after a sudden downpour adding small doses of colour into their world.
A record of sustained power and energy, the album’s mid-section arc feels like a cohesive statement in its own right. ‘Something Changed’ leans on the personal, picking apart the finer details in personal relationships – it also doubles as one of the record’s starkest moments, bleak yet not without beauty. ‘Renegade Hearts’ meanwhile yearns for the unknown, depicting characters that exist out-with the confines of the everyday.
‘Gran Hotel’ opens in fractured ambience, before bursting into jagged post-punk, while ‘Big Shot City’ glistens with intoxicating darkness. Presenting a maze of guitars, ‘Go Easy (Palermo)’ taps into the band’s roots, while also looking at them afresh from an unexpected angle. Gothic in tone, this plea for clemency seems to tap into the dark histories of New York, while delving into the personal; the imagination and reality intermingling, as the bass swoops past like a threatening eagle defending its nest.
The band’s first new album in four years, ‘The Other Side Of Make-Believe’ finds Interpol channelling a unique sense of isolation, one that existed long before terms such as ‘lockdown’ came into our lives. A record packed with solitary voices, the New Yorkers seem to amplify their ability to capture the beauty in melancholy, stripping back the paint of the everyday to reveal the extraordinary underneath.
Words: Robin Murray
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