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Interpol - The Other Side of Make-Believe (Album Review)

Thursday, 21 July 2022 Written by Graeme Marsh

Twenty five years into their career, Manhattan miserabilists Interpol aren’t getting any chirpier. Following a pandemic, their gloomy traits perhaps feel more fitting than ever but ‘The Other Side of Make-Believe’ often feels like there’s a struggle going on. On one hand it’s as though their lives have been frozen in time, as they were, and on the other there is the reality of a painfully slow thawing out post-Covid.

Guitarist Daniel Kessler provided the catalyst for most of the tracks here, his demos giving frontman Paul Banks food for thought as he then wrote songs from their shells. In several places, though, it appears that Kessler may have been struggling for inspiration. His riffs sound tired and occasionally like an echo of a better past.

Greenwich is such a case. Its unconvincing, dreary melody falls short, like squeezing the last few drops of water from a sponge. It then descends into confusion, sporadically peeking its head from the oppressive cloud it’s created.

Something Changed is similarly nondescript, as is Passenger, while closer Go Easy (Palermo) utilises a tired lead line, sounding again like the well of ideas is running dry.

Single and opener Toni is a microcosm of the entire album: it feels tempered, hollow and missing something, almost like it is being held back. The claustrophobic Mr Credit is also a pale imitation of what’s gone before, its jumbled assortment of inspirations proving its downfall. Thankfully, things are far better elsewhere, even if the highlights aren’t consistently reproduced. 

Shimmering guitars propel Big Shot City forward, despite them almost arriving too late at three minutes in, while the piercing riffage of Into The Night is a reminder of how vital Interpol’s best songs are—for once Kessler delivers something approaching what we know he is capable of. The more lively Renegade Hearts is another winner, and it’s once again heavily reliant on a better guitar part, its eerie presence underlined by Banks intoning “you might get stolen”.

It’s 7-Up for Interpol with the release of ‘The Other Side of Make-Believe’ but unfortunately there’s a distinct lack of fizz this time around, despite the presence of heavyweight producers Flood and Alan Moulder. It all feels distinctly average, despite Banks’ hopeful claims that “there’s always a seventh time for a first impression”. Coming out of a depressing time, maybe that’s no surprise. In that respect, let’s hope the next few years are kinder to us all and, in Interpol’s case, that they can rediscover the spark that is currently fizzling out.

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