Julian Plenti: Julian Plenti Is… Skyscraper

Music Reviews Julian Plenti
Julian Plenti: Julian Plenti Is… Skyscraper

Interpol frontman finds solid footing by breaking ground

Paul Banks, who has never broken character as Interpol’s sharply dressed and coolly detached frontman, has both benefited from cutting a singularly engaging creative profile and suffered from stylistic typecasting. As such, Banks has a lot to prove with his first solo release, and he seems eager to use the Julian Plenti moniker to prove that he can command a wider array of tones and textures than those seen on Interpol’s three releases. This he accomplishes not by desperately attempting to shake off Interpol’s legacy with a series of flailing genre exercises but by trying to inject a bit of nuance and spontaneity into their mechanical push and pull. In fact, “Fun That We Have” could easily pass for an Interpol outtake, were it not for the gurgling electronics and a festering static that bubbles beneath its constant time shifts. “Games For Days,” too, could fit on any Interpol album, though Banks creates a sense of space and menace by keeping the guitar tones lean. The rest of Banks’ experiments come in the form of space-rock lullabies (“No Chance Survival”), minimalist chamber-pop (“Skyscraper”) and electro piano ballads (“Madrid Song”)—all tracks that prove him to be a more sympathetic and flexible vocalist than was previously apparent. Only the cloyingly celebratory “Unwind” ranks as an unmitigated misstep, with its embarrassingly trite synth trumpet hook fitting poorly with the darker hues of the rest of the album.

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