“I’d like to see them win/I like the inspiration like it’s going in the right direction,” sings Interpol’s Paul Banks on ‘The Other Side Of Make Believe’s graceful and assured opener ‘Toni’. These words could be the notions of any follower of the indie stalwarts: when the band are on the right path, it usually leads to victory.
Debut ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ is ’00s indie-noir canon, while follow-up ‘Antics’ added warmth, weight and hooks to their NYC gloom. Their one major label outing, ‘Our Love To Admire’ came with some string-laden, cinematic ambition but without the punch of its predecessors and the patchy, confused and awkward self-titled follow-up saw the exit of vampiric bassist Carlos D and was met with shrugs ahead of a four year break. ‘El Pintor’ saw them storm back with an urgency and vitality and he renaissance run continued on the raucous, hedonistic rush of 2018’s ‘Marauder’. Their path over the past two decades has been anything but straight-forward.
On ‘The Other Side Of Make Believe’, they’re still very much in a mid-career purple patch. You won’t find any indie radio bangers like ‘Slow Hands’ or ‘All The Rage Back Home’, but instead a consistent and engaging tapestry of moods and textures. ‘Fables’ is a waltz of Daniel Kessler’s fretwork as Banks pines that “it’s time we made something stable, ‘Cause we’re in the sights of perfect danger”. Then the full-bodied future set highlight of ‘Gran Hotel’ keeps the longing and romance alive (“I would gladly give my life to be there… I see you in everything“) while ‘Something Changed’ is a haunting and airy song of light keys, Sam Fogarino’s jazzy beats and Banks lost in a space where there’s “no parade, nobody’s coming”.
That hypnotic and woozy sense of place they first mastered on their debut is still present, particularly on the menacing crescendo of ‘Greenwich’ and shimmering closer ‘Go Easy (Palermo)’, but it must be said that there’s a curious vim and rhythm at the heart of ‘The Other Side Of Make Believe’. You’ll hear it in the lively skittering drums of the arresting ‘Renegade Hearts’, while the surprising slow hip-hop-meets-post-punk jam ‘Passenger’ and the revelrous pop beats and left turns in the ‘Big Shot City’ could be borrowing from Arctic Monkeys’ ‘AM’ playbook.
Far from a total reinvention, but all adds up to a confident, rewarding and subtly adventurous new chapter for Interpol – or, as Banks sings himself on the aforementioned peak of ‘Toni’, “Still in shape, my methods refined”.
- Release date: July 15
- Label: Matador Records