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CD of The Week

Week of 8/08/22

    Interpol - The Other Side of Make-Believe (Matador)

    Interpol arrived on the NYC post-punk revival scene in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s alongside The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and others. That revival trend would reinvent itself a few more times in the next 20 years, while Interpol mostly stuck with their now-signature sound and style. On The Other Side of Make-Believe, Paul Banks and company push their seventh album into familiar territory, while making some subtle strides toward a fresh posture. In the opening track "Toni," Banks is cheekily self-aware of this reality singing "Still in shape, my methods refined." Later, in the same song, he muses "The aim now is perfection always, The aim now is f***in' leave it behind."

    Their craft is in top form here. Banks' lyrics are biting, morose, and witty, occasionally all at once, while Sam Fogarino (drums) and Daniel Keesler (guitars, keys) fill out the instrumentation with a lush, tight weave of beats and riffs. To top it off, mega-producer Flood (U2, New Order, Depeche Mode, etc.) and mega-mixer Alan Moulder (The Killers, NIN, etc.), with their unparalleled combined experience, drizzle a fine sheen on top of the production.

    TOSOMB marks the first Interpol album composed while the members were apart, Banks himself was stuck in Scotland due to the COVID pandemic. Meanwhile, Kessler was in Spain and Fogarino was in Athens, GA. They communicated and shared ideas via email, finally reuniting in the Catskills for rehearsals in the summer of '21, then recording in London during the fall. With all of this continent-hopping, what wasn't lost is the aura and grit of their NYC life experience; you can almost hear the pulse of the city, Interpol's music a veritable soundtrack to a montage of slow-motion taxis and pedestrians streaming by in a dreamy gauze. In the West Side Story-esque video for "Toni," Banks watches the action from afar in a ‘70s-era unmarked cop car. The video for "Something's Changed," is Part II, and concludes the film with Banks saving (?) the damsel. They are also the only two songs of the album with piano at the lead, and at tracks 1 and 5, they basically round out the more morose and peculiar Act I.

    Act II kicks off with "Renegade Hearts," and a fervent tempo. More reminiscent of their livelier work, it features a killer beat from Fogarino. A different, but equally compelling drum beat kicks off "Passengers" next, reminiscent of Banks’ hip-hop crossover album with RZA (Banks & Steelz). The guitars get heavier and darker on "Greenwich, "while "Gran Hotel," is upbeat, but juxtaposed with lyrics of grief and loss. "Go Easy (Palermo)" concludes the album with Banks' thoughts on his life's journey; "I'll keep pushing it forward, Now all these obstacles in my way have been fading, I'll take shape on the highway to exotic states, You must celebrate to behold." Perhaps it's a nod to the "Obstacle 1" era, with the band moving into the future without completely forgetting the past. Repeated listens ultimately reveal the depth of emotion on TOSOMB, and it proves that Interpol are aging gracefully into the post-post-punk world and beyond.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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