For their seventh studio album, the three members of Interpol enlisted legendary producer Flood with Alan Moulder to help sculpt the album. “Toni” is both the first track and first single from the album. A moody piece of piano driven music where Paul Banks sings that “the aim is now perfection always”. Drummer Sam Fogarino shines on both “Into the Night” and “Renegade Hearts” which also adds female vocals to great effect.
Songs such as “Fables” are more sparse sounding before a bigger voice emerges in the chorus. Several of the songs are built around a Daniel Kessler guitar riff such as the cinematic “Big Shot City” and “Gran Hotel” where Banks sing about the streets of Cozumel. It’s hard to discern what Flood added to the process as the album sounds like Interpol. The Other Side of Make-Believe sticks to mostly stylized midtempo sounds and lacks a fierce bite that would add much needed passion to the recording.
The third Madonna album released in June 1986 cemented her as an 80s superstar, right up there with Prince and Michael Jackson. True Blue contained 5 hit singles and went to number one across the world. A staggering achievement for the still 27-year-old who was fresh into a marriage to actor Sean Penn. Even with all the tabloid headlines and endless distractions, the determined popstar co-wrote and produced every track on the album along with Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard.
True Blue opens with the unmistakable string arrangement of “Papa Don’t Preach”. The controversial song about a woman opening up to her dad and deciding what she wants to do with an unplanned pregnancy regardless of what others think. The tumbling drums of “Open Your Heart” open up the infectious dance pop track. Ballad “Live to Tell” from the Sean Penn movie At Close Range was the album’s opening single and went to #1 in several countries. A touching vocal performance is most effective in the bridge when the music fades and Madonna’s voice comes back in.
The title track is an upbeat 50sish pop track is a lighthearted romp that sees Madonna happily sing, “I searched the whole world for someone like you”. The #3 US single was sadly left off the Immaculate Collection hits collection released a few years later. Final single, “La Isla Bonita” started as an instrumental for Michael Jackson that was turned down before Madonna turned it into a Latin flavoured, slightly melancholic track that recalls time spent on the tropical paradise of San Pedro.
What makes True Blue a step up from Like a Virgin is the quality of its album tracks. Songs like “Where’s the Party” and “Jimmy Jimmy” are not such a drastic departure from the more famous singles. These songs are as good as pop music gets in the 1980s and continued Madonna’s successful run of singles.