For Fans Of
Paul Banks, best known for his work fronting Interpol, has released his second solo record, simply titled ‘Banks,’ which will not be a huge shock to an Interpol fan’s system. Granted, it’s hard to separate the two when the vocal is such a strong element of both and cannot be changed, but musically the differences are few.
Opening track ‘The Base‘ forms a pretty strong argument against this however, at least in its beginning. The gently picked intertwining guitars and semi-electro beat provide a path for the quirky synths and effects, which give the impression that Banks is making it obvious early that he has complete freedom on this project. Recorded in New York with Interpol producer Peter Katis, the record focuses on the dark, brooding side of the songwriters spectrum with breakout moments every now and then. These can be bright poppy breakdowns, or the complete opposite with a fuzzed out bass line lead riff.
The bells and whistles are all well and good, but the moments in which things are relatively stripped back are the ones in which the album shines. The best example of this is record highlight ‘Arise, Awake‘, driven by a lo-fi drum beat and airy strings, Banks’ haunting vocals drift in amongst some fairly simple yet effective musicianship. Things can quickly jump from soft and sombre to walls of sound, like the haze of fuzz in ‘Young Again‘, which instantly dissolves into quiet electronics.
The majority of the songs however seem like creepy versions of Interpol, there is no doubt that some weird things are going on in Banks’ head, especially in the evocative ‘Paid For That‘, which is the audio equivalent of a haunted house. The biggest surprise is the sample led ‘Another Chance‘, which is a random selection of musical pieces that could have been released by Radiohead and shows a completely different but awesome side to Paul Banks.
The album ends with the straight forward indie rock of ‘Summertime Is Coming‘, which sounds like it has been pulled straight from an Interpol record.
There are moments on ‘Banks’ which has the songwriter stepping far out of his comfort zone and these yield the most exciting results. The rest just sounds like an Interpol album, which isn’t a bad thing, but that’s not really what we’re here for now, is it?
1. The Base
2. Over My Shoulder
3. Arise, Awake
4. Young Again
6. I’ll Sue You
7. Paid for That
8. Another Chance
9. No Mistakes
10. Summertime Is Coming