Pick of the Week: Interpol “Toni”

Interpol "Toni" - Pick of the Week
Graphics by Kasvi Bhatia

By Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

Interpol dial down their typically angst-filled, post-punk sound for “Toni.” The single is the first to lead up to the band’s next studio album, The Other Side of Make-Believe. The record will be the group's first since 2018's Marauder.

 

DIVING INTO THE SOUND OF “TONI”

“Obstacle 1” off of Interpol’s breakout debut album Turn On the Bright Lights first enters with siren-esque guitars. Another popular track, “Evil,” from 2004, begins with deep and commanding bass. “Toni” chooses piano as Interpol’s instrument of choice to lead in. Cutting off brief noises of distortion within the first few seconds, the song’s piano arpeggio brings a sense of groundedness. 

While not very angsty, the track isn’t calm either. Instead, a slight sense of anxiety builds up sonically. Paul Banks’ vocals grow stronger and the blending instruments each pick up in pace and distortion. By the end, the repeating line “above the ocean” trails off in haunting echoes. A fierce drumbeat is the last element of the song to dissolve.  

 

A REFLECTION ON WHERE INTERPOL LIE IN THEIR CAREER

Now working on their seventh album, Interpol is no longer the group of 20-something year-olds it was when they formed out of Manhattan in 1997. “Toni” has a polished sound and way of combining the instrumentation that reflects their extensive time as bandmates. 

Having caught Interpol’s recent show at Roadrunner in Boston on May 11th, a comment can be made on the band’s confidence performing as well. The aging members didn’t need to jump around the stage for their presence to embody a sense of rocking out. The crowd was electrified all the same by early post-punk tracks. And they especially relished the beauty and power of gentler tracks like “Toni.” 

 

THE MAKING AND MEANING OF "TONI"

Having been made in 2020, “Toni” was influenced by the pandemic in both its message and inception. The writing and recording process for songs off of their upcoming album was done remotely, a first for the band. And as lead singer Paul Banks explained in a press release, they made a rather conscious decision to not dwell on the negatives during the rather dark time. 

This choice is reflected in the lyrics of “Toni.” Banks sings of aspirations of “going in the right direction.” “The aim now is perfection always,” the lyrics go on. And later, “When the change comes we’ll live in green skies.” The lines point towards the obvious unattainability of a world without trouble. But it’s a celebration of the positives nonetheless. “I like to see them win,” Banks declares, leaving ambiguous if “them” refers to specific people in his life or society as a whole. 

 

LOOKING FORWARD WITH A MUCH-NEEDED SENSE OF HOPE

Talking more about what informed the album’s themes, Banks concluded, “The nobility of the human spirit is to rebound.”

He went on, “I feel now is the time when being hopeful is necessary, and a still-believable emotion within what makes Interpol Interpol.”

Interpol’s seventh studio album The Other Side of Make-Believe is set to release on July 15th. 

 

Every Monday, our music staff brings you a new Pick of The Week, detailing some of our favorite songs. Check out our previous Picks of the Week here, and make sure to tune in to WERS 88.9FM!

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