Album Review: Paul Banks – ‘Banks’

Paul Banks, front man of New York indie band Interpol, has dropped his pseudonym Julian Plenti for his third solo effort. It might lack some cohesion, but Banks is still worth a listen. 

Banks must surely be tired of the constant and cruel comparisons to Joy Division by now. It’s been 10 years since Interpol’s debut Turn on the Bright Lights was released at the height of the post-punk revival when Joy Division seemed to be influencing every band that was coming out of NY. However, Paul Banks hasn’t really done quite enough to shake off these comparisons with his latest effort. Even taking his Ian Curtis-esque baritone voice aside ,which admittedly sits perfectly with Banks’s songs, it’s all still here. The rigid rhythms and melancholia on ‘Over My Shoulder’ are undeniable, but still enjoyable.

But what has Paul Banks got to be so sad about? Perhaps it’s the intrusion of the paparazzi into his life since beginning his relationship with ex-supermodel Helena Christensen; thankfully none of that seeps into his lyrics. It’s hard to imagine old Ian Curtis coping well with that sort of thing. There’s one thing that can set Banks and Curtis apart. Admittedly there are some great moments – ‘Paid For That’ is dark and grand whilst on ‘Arise, Awake’ crisp hip hop drums lie perfectly underneath the mournful strings. ‘Young Again’ repeats its title a lot, which is sort of a hook, but it lacks much imagination. However if you’ve enjoyed Interpol or Paul Banks solo work before, or anything like The National, you’ll find enough to enjoy here.

‘Lisbon’ is an unexpected instrumental that is nice enough, but it’s the one other instrumental track ‘Another Chance’ that is much more interesting. A spoken sample including “I have a neurological condition, don’t you get that? There’s something wrong with my brain!” repeats itself along with a variety of acoustic riffs, strings and keys. On moments like these where Banks escapes from the mundane mechanical rhythms and tries something different, he shines.

The standout track is the definitely finale ‘Summertime Is Coming’ which drops from electric epicness to acoustic tenderness while Banks croons “Can we waste some more time just colliding in space?” A truly humble ending. Banks is definitely one to listen to over and over again, uncovering more and more subtle layers each time. It will happily keep Interpol fans distracted until a reunion.

Mark Bridger

Mark is listening to Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

One Comment
  • Ibrihim
    24 October 2012 at 19:05
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