By Mark Jenkins
Friday, November 9, 2012
On his self-titled solo (sort of) debut, Interpol frontman Paul Banks makes a good case for himself -- as an arranger. The British-born New Yorker deftly stacks guitars, keyboards and sometimes strings under his theatrical baritone for such stately numbers as “The Base” and “No Mistakes.” But the songs are less expressive than the style, and the album’s more experimental tracks are unimpressive.
“Banks” isn’t the singer-guitarist’s first work without Interpol, the neo-New Wave band he joined in 1998; he has recorded under the alias Julian Plenti. This album even recycles Plenti’s “Summertime Is Coming,” which is one of the stronger tracks. It holds up much better than the two lyrics-free novelties: “Another Chance,” which is constructed around a tiresome vocal sample, and “Lisbon,” an uneventful instrumental.
Banks played or programmed almost all of the sounds on this album except for the strings and some of the drums. Too bad he didn’t subcontract some of the lyrics, which range from the expected existential brooding to the grandiose boasting of “Over My Shoulder.”
“You only know me like the shoreline knows the sea,” the singer announces. That’s a bit much. “Banks” has a full sound, but its material is something less than oceanic.