The Other Side Of Make-Believe


Matador, 2022

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


As those of us who went to college or came of age in the late ’90s/early 2000s continue to age, against our wills, the indie rock bands that defined that time period are thoughtfully doing the same thing, transitioning into that dreaded but necessary “elder statesman” role that happens in rock music. To wit, it’s been 20 years since Interpol’s beloved debut, and in that time they have retained three of the four band members and released seven albums while also dabbling in side projects.

Not that Interpol was a band that needed to grow up, as their gloomy, open sound and non-rock-star approach even in 2002 suggested a band wiser than its years. A solid, well-crafted album that breaks no new ground and recalls the glory days is exactly what you expect from a band like Interpol at this stage in their career, and that’s exactly what my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Other Side of Make-Believe is.

Written remotely—as a lot of music was in 2020 and 2021, sadly—and with Flood on board as a producer, Interpol turns in 11 songs that are definitely Interpol songs; few bands sound like these guys, so if you’ve been a fan since you declared your liberal arts major in 2003, you no doubt will find plenty to like here. With a critical eye, though, there’s little that builds on what Interpol has done prior.

When the band breaks away from its sound, with subtle but necessary variations, things improve.  The pulsing beat of “Renegade Hearts” and the near-summer highway driving song “Fables” are highlights, while “Big Shot City” takes an almost playful drum beat and an unusual (for these guys) songwriting approach. Some have also called out a slow hip-hop influence on “Passenger,” though it’s so slow that this influence is only there if you want it to be.

Most of the album treads in familiar waters, though, which I suppose is a handicap of aging gracefully. You won’t remember or really feel compelled to revisit tracks like “Greenwich,” “Gran Hotel,” “Into The Night” or “Mr. Credit,” although the closing “Go Easy (Palermo)” is a soaring and thoughtful ending that also clocks in at less than three minutes.

Like most of Interpol’s albums, Make Believe is uneven, filled with alternating good and dull tracks and sounding very similar to each other and what came before. The beauty of this one is that the introspection has heft; no longer young men, the group delivers rumination and the sound of a life being lived, albeit a gray and cloudy one that could use some sunshine. Maybe the next album should be called Make-Believe and feature a rainbow on the cover, just for balance. But for an elder statesman album, and assuming the listener is in an introspective state of mind, The Other Side Of Make-Believe is about what one expects at this stage from Interpol, for better or worse.

Rating: B-

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