Release Date: Oct 22, 2012
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
After assuming “Julian Plenti” in 2009, here Interpol frontman Paul Banks packages his second solo album as himself. Make what you will about what it means in terms of being more personal and/or introspective, the songs belong to Banks alone. While efforts in manipulating snipped field recordings and select instrumentals don’t reach the same bar as the rest of the artist’s signature dissonanced, dark pop (particularly with the excellent opener “The Base”), Banks’ phantasms manage a construct a decent corporeal form.
Following his 2009 quasi-solo album under the pseudonym Julian Plenti, Paul Banks’ self-titled release Banks reflects an important demarcation in the Interpol singer’s discography. While Julian Plenti is Skyscraper mainly consisted of songs written pre-Interpol, Banks is all new material, and is a manifestation of the quantum leap Banks has taken as a songwriter and arranger. .
Ten years on from Interpol's seminal Turn on the Bright Lights, and two years since the departure of iconic - albeit divisive - bassist Carlos Dengler, it would seem that Paul Banks is finally coming to terms with his own identity. Seeing him use his own name for the first time (with previous solo efforts using the moniker Julian Plenti), Banks is a somewhat more relaxed affair by comparison to the cynical, bleak works of Interpol, but, as is his wont, he still manages to sound pretty cynical... and bleak.
Paul Banks' Julian Plenti Lives EP -- which served as a farewell to his singer/songwriter alter ego -- featured covers of songs by J Dilla and Frank Sinatra. While there's nothing quite that far-flung on his first album under his own name, bits of each of those artists can be heard in these songs, from his often velvety vocals to his use of samples and beats to create something more eclectic than his work with Interpol. Banks often feels more varied than his first solo album, Julian Plenti Is Skyscraper; while "The Base" and "Arise, Awake" recall that album with their mix of serpentine guitars, luxurious strings, and mechanical rhythms, on the whole these songs have less of an acoustic singer/songwriter feel than his Plenti material did.
Uncertainty has been the main driver of all of Paul Banks’ efforts. If the success of Interpol was brought upon to him by the request of Daniel Kessler, then it could be said that his entire trajectory as the leader of an influential band has been the ultimate apparatus for him to discover his might as a fully autonomous songwriter. He remains loyal to Interpol, and he’s made clear on repeated occasions that the band remain very much a unit, but the subtext in his answer suggests that he’s truly content when his name is up in the venue billboard, whatever name he decides to choose.
The French have a term for thinking of the perfect comeback far too late, once you’ve ascended the proverbial staircase away from the argument — literally, l’esprit de l’escalier. With his eponymous sophomore release Banks, Interpol’s baritone leading man Paul Banks rises above past experiences, reaching nirvana in a way that’s both reflective and cathartic. Through grandiose swells of instrumentation, Banks separates drastically from the subtlety of Julian Plenti Is Skyscraper, more of an awakening than an album.
Like so many rock stars before him, Interpol frontman Paul Banks launched a solo career as an outlet for music he felt he couldn't make with his band. But Banks' work under his original solo guise, Julian Plenti, was essentially in the same vein as Interpol's hooky, glowering post-punk. Now he's dropped the Julian Plenti façade and is recording under his given name, even going so far as to call his new record Banks.
Paul BanksBanks[Metador; 2012]By Brendan Frank; October 23, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetIt’s kind of hard to believe, but Interpol’s debut Turn on the Bright Lights is ten this year. Hot on the trail of other now-classics like Is This It and Veni Vidi Vicious, it was really the first revival record to candidly document the shadowy underbelly of metropolitan cool. Right from the blurred guitars and plunging basslines on “Untitled,” you knew it was a special record.
Paul Banks is certainly a busy man. If he’s not touring with Interpol, he’s writing material under his Julian Plenti moniker, working with American rapper El-P and now he’s releasing a record under his given name. It’s always hard to listen to any of his output without the grand expectations of Interpol hanging over it, but as soon as opening track ‘The Base’ begins, all attempted comparisons are almost forgotten.
Indie rock pioneer Paul Banks is one of the few artists with his hands terribly full of illustrious and talented traits; juggling everything from his own solo material, a project called Julian Plenti, and one of the music scene’s most prolific indie bands, Interpol. Paul Banks’ career and its echoes ring that of a deep hospitality, the kind of hospitality with a sense of belonging and warmth. The kind of hospitality affectionately accepted when likened to sounds such as indie groove-sters, the Editors or the careful finesse of Pinback bodes well with seeming comfortable, but the rootless methodical maturity that Paul Banks displays is that of an old rocking chair worn with the struggles and joys of time.
Paul Banks has had a rough go of it. Since Interpol's era-defining debut, 2002's Turn On the Bright Lights, the NYC luminary's career slowly disintegrated into unflattering irrelevance. Banks is a defiant title for an embattled songwriter, and he pulls it off. His second solo LP is stormy, jittery, and often memorable, just like the best of Interpol.
A curious, curate’s egg of an album from the Interpol member. Mischa Pearlman 2012 What’s in a name? Paul Banks might be a good person to ask – the Interpol singer is releasing his second solo album not as Julian Plenti, the moniker he used for his first solo effort, but under his real name. There are, of course, songs that sound like Interpol – Banks’ disembodied vocals shimmering over ominous, paranoid melodies on Paid for That, I’ll Sue You (which contains one of the most oddly and pointlessly litigious choruses of modern times, if not ever) and No Mistakes.
Banks is Paul Banks’ third solo album and the first not released under the pseudonym Julian Plenti. Julian Plenti was an alias he created to represent the music he had written before joining Interpol, and now that he’s gotten that out of the way, he feels free to use his real name. That sense of liberation informs Banks, which was released this week on Matador, approximately 10 years after the first Interpol album, the acclaimed Turn On The Bright Lights.