Review Summary: The aim now is perfection always
In spite of its flaws, I would say I enjoyed Marauder
more than most at the time. Nevertheless, there were a couple of capricious decisions made by the band that even I struggled getting my head around. Essentially Marauder
was an attempt at exploring new pastures, stripping down their sound to its bare, vulnerable functions; removing the chic bodywork in order to bestow the band’s chassis and all of its working parts to the listener. For some, this attempt at creating the most authentic post punk album possible didn’t quite translate with the band’s well-established and inimitable traits. The raw production and austere songwriting were ultimately acquired tastes, yet – despite adoring El Pintor
’s forlorn and ethereal aesthetics, coated in an extravagant and crisp production – I still appreciated what they were going for on that record. However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the more conventional methods from the band and hoped that, four years and a pandemic later, they would deliver something a little less polarising. Fortunately for album number seven, while Interpol attempt to take their distinct sound into different regions, they do so with the stylish bodywork back on their vehicle while they go around searching for those new ideas.
Cutting straight to the chase here; The Other Side of Make-Believe
is a return to form for all. It doesn’t take long to realise they’ve gone back to the grand, multifaceted production of yore. The songs themselves are like onions, and the more you go back to them the more you’ll peel away at the layers from these dynamic compositions. The sound overall feels content with lurking around El Pintor
’s polished presentations – albeit adding something new to the equation to make it feel like a step forward rather than a step backwards – and on the whole the record does a great job of encapsulating the band’s sound perfectly. The best summation for The Other Side of Make-Believe
is that it focuses on refinements from previous achievements as opposed to making any big, disruptive changes. The results speak for themselves: The Other Side of Make-Believe
is a blazing return to form that retains their adulated strengths, whilst adding plenty of new, nuanced elements into the equation to make it all engaging. The optimism in particular is something that can’t be overlooked. The pandemic has clearly had an effect on the band’s songwriting and rather than falling into the trap of its doom and gloom, the band have decided to lean a little closer into a positive vibe over the crushing, melancholic anguish Banks and co. are typically accustomed to residing in. This slight shift in tone is probably indicative of why ‘Toni’ – the most overtly upbeat track here – is the opening number, a track drenched in sanguinity: the piano jingle, funky guitar rhythms, and Fogarino’s airtight drum work culminates into a vibrant energy unheard of from the band before today.
The Other Side of Make-Believe
does a really great job of working out what makes Interpol such an engaging band and builds its ideas upon that foundation. For instance, ‘Fables’ is a pretty safe number, but the execution is superb nonetheless – sounding like a quintessential Interpol tune with its groove-heavy focus, evocative guitar melodies and Banks’ otherworldly vocals. In earnest, ‘Fables’ is probably the safest track on here as well, so it bodes well for the rest of the album which is bustling with killer grooves, creepy melodies, and the odd peppering of positivity for good measure. ‘Big Shot City’ is probably my favourite track off the album, doing a great job of creating this god-sized sound with so many massive simmers and swells. The ground-shaking bass sounds like a double bass being played with a bow, and it fits in perfectly with all of those haunting synths, guitar effects and palm-mutes, converging to craft this incredibly fresh sound. Other highlights come from the vast groovers ‘Into the Night’ and ‘Mr Credit’, with their fuzzy bass grooves and massive choruses; the slow-cooking rocker ‘Gran Hotel’ builds up to a fantastic bridge; and the ballad-y ‘Something Changed’ has an excellent earworm chorus from Banks – as he croons “something changed”
– that’ll stay with you long after listening to it.
Quite frankly, I didn’t expect this level of quality from Interpol. At the time, ‘Toni’ didn’t do a great deal for me as a single, but in context it fits into the album without any hitches and works really well as an LP-opening track. The Other Side of Make-Believe
preserves the band’s haunted post punk proclivities, but the subtle positive messaging from Banks (and occasionally from the instrumentals) adds another layer of depth to the band’s sound. Moving forward is referenced throughout the entire record, and I think the band have done that both figuratively and in practice. This is easily one of the best albums of 2022, and it stands up to some of Interpol’s greatest works, but with time The Other Side of Make-Believe
could well be my favourite album from them. In fairness, this album feels like the natural continuation from El Pintor
, so if you felt disappointed by Marauder
, fear not, Interpol have made amends by delivering another milestone album for you to enjoy.