Julian Plenti is… Skyscraper
Aug 07, 2009 Issue #27 Summer 2009 - Jarvis Cocker
On the scale of rock star vanity, the solo project comes out on top, just above the supergroup. Add to that an alter ego, and things get dicey. Interpol singer/lyricist Paul Banks tries to break this trend, or ignores it altogether, with his Julian Plenti record.
As Julian Plenti, Banks sings much the same way, but the material is a little brighter than Interpol's doom-and-gloom approach; not that it's all sunshine and lollipops, but Plenti is more of a lover than the Banks listeners have come to know.
Not surprisingly, the collection—and that's what it feels like, a collection made over a longer period of time, as opposed to a more cohesive album—feels hit or miss. Fortunately, it's much more hit than miss. The low points are few, and while "Fun that We Have" feels like the work of someone who has unlimited access to a studio, most of Skyscraper contains enough quality and enough separation from the Interpol sound to earn its keep.
Some of the better songs sound like only a slight variation on Interpol, such as the opening "Only If You Run" and "Fly if You Might." But elsewhere Banks strikes out on his own. One high point is "Madrid Song," a meditative and stark piano tune that features Banks repeating, "Come have at us, we are strong." "Madrid Song" forms a sort of borderline, as the second half of Skyscraper finds Banks stretching more, with the acoustic guitar picking and strings in "On the Esplanade," and the most surprising song, the New Wave-y "Unwind," which is full of upbeat horns.
Banks has done the near impossible with his first solo record—he has earned the right to be considered a legitimate talent all on his own. Even though Interpol helps Banks mine the darker, and somewhat more fascinating, reaches of his mind, he has proven that Plenti deserves to be heard as well. (www.julianplenti.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 7/10