Interpol Are Back w/ Visceral New Single ‘Toni’ + ‘West Side Story’ Style Video

Images by Atiba Jefferson

For those who trolled the early oughts scene in Downtown NYC – and hopefully had as brilliant a time doing it as did we – it’s heartening to see The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, and the individual members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs being as creatively vital as ever. No surprise, they’re all still looking quite good doing it, too.

And much as we’ve never stopped missing Carlos D (he quit the band in 2010, and has been strangely invisible since), Interpol are also still very much at the top of their game. Indeed, their first new album in four years arrives July 15 (again via Matador), the whimsically titled The Other Side of Make Believe. As one could guess, the band has its own pandemic story, having started the writing process remotely in 2020, then coming together in a rented Catskills home last year to flesh out the songs, and eventually finishing up in a North London studio.

The music was co-produced by a pair of absolute legends, Flood and Alan Moulder.

Guitarist Daniel Kessler offers, “The process of writing this record and searching for tender, resonant emotions took me back to teenage years; it was transformative, almost euphoric. I felt a rare sensation of purpose biting on the end of my fishing rod and I was compelled to reel it in.”

The first single has just been released, the piercingly poignant ‘Toni’, which opens with a kind of languid melancholy, sort of in the same territory as Tindersticks or Damon Albarn‘s recent solo work. As we’ve come to expect of Interpol, however, it eventually builds to an exhilarating sense of anxiety and intensity. No surprise, Paul Banks’ lyrics beg a few rounds of thoughtful examination – but here he seems to be wanting to put behind some or other tragedy, and move on to more hopeful times.

“The aim now is perfection always
The aim now is fuckin’ leave it behind
Oh no, through perception’s hallways
And the change comes we’ll live in green skies”

The accompanying video, though, seems to be a world all its own, the band working with director Van Alpert (who had been previously tapped by Post Malone and Machine Gun Kelly), to conjure something of an edgier version of West Side Story.

“I wrote a crazy idea that I felt was new for Interpol,” Alpert explains, “a hyper-modern, cinematic dance film. A ‘lovers on the run’ story, with a classic cliffhanger ending. Paul Banks tied everything together and elevated the concept, because he’s naturally a great actor, artist, and collaborator.”

An extensive North American and European tour (with one Mexico City date in between) commences April 25 at The Factory in Dallas, concluding September 18 at Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. Welcome back, gents.

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