Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper
Not sure why Paul Banks decided to resurrect his pre-Interpol pseudonym after all these years, but for the sake of a mostly solid debut full-length, let’s indulge the man’s ego for a bit.
Perhaps it does make sense in a way for Banks to embody Julian Plenti on Skyscraper, which is somewhat of a departure from his main gig but is never fully detached from it. Banks’ now-familiar baritone meshes instantly with opener “Only if You Run,” a slow, lumbering and likeable tune filled with colorful keyboard textures that could have you believe his Interpol bandmates stopped by to make a cameo. Still, the influence of his day job doesn’t detract from songs like “Games for Days,” an unrelenting track driven by an equally brooding verse and chorus that makes for something subversive, sexy and worth listening repeatedly to.
But while it’s easy to beat the Interpol references to death, Banks to his credit throws a few welcome curveballs on Skyscraper, including the new-wave-lite “Fun That We Have” and the utterly chipper “Unwind,” which features triumphant horn blasts as a hook. The upbeat tunes, though, also happen to nicely offset Banks’ more lo-fi outings, namely the dark minstrel folk of the title track and “On the Esplanade,” which could easily serve as the record’s lulling bookends.
It might not be the complete detour some would’ve expected or even wanted, but Paul Banks’ debut offers us, um, plenty of moments to enjoy his doppelganger, who is actually a more hospitable soul when all is said and done.
Julian Plenti: www.matadorrecords.com/julian_plenti