x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Julian Plenti: ...Is Skyscraper

New ideas, beautiful melodies and shattering art-rock rackets - Plenti has made an album with plenty to enjoy.

Julian Plenti.
Julian Plenti.

So, Julian Plenti is Skyscraper. He is also Paul Banks of the celebrated New York rockers Interpol and this is his debut solo album. With that cleared up, the question "What's it like?" inevitably follows. Well, what it definitely isn't like is another Eighties-synth-drenched vanity project of the kind we've been seeing from so many indie musicians recently. Instead, Banks has chosen to follow a similar path to the one Thom Yorke took with The Eraser by making music that doesn't differ heavily from that of his day job. Skyscraper is basically an album of two halves; songs like Fun That We Have and Games for Days have the same paranoid beating heart as Interpol, albeit with a slightly less grandiose feel. Then there are the ones that should be filed under "lovely" next to the likes of Bon Iver. The folky string-laden Skyscraper, for example, which is perhaps the most beautiful thing Banks has ever recorded. Later on comes Unwind with a stomping rhythm and flurries of horns reminiscent of Broken Social Scene. There are some humorous moments too, like the sleazy Girl on the Sporting News, the closest that Banks has ever come to a traditional love song. Many of the tunes are particularly appealing because they offer the departure that Interpol's last album that Our Love to Admire never delivered. In fact the opener Only If You Run, with its slow start and emotionally detached vocals, easily tricks the listener into thinking this is the band's long-awaited comeback. By the end of the album however, it's obvious that this is a slightly different beast. The folky On the Esplanade is chilling and wonderful before the instrumental closer H sums up the complex and characterful record. Rich with new ideas, beautiful melodies and shattering art-rock rackets, it makes you wonder how Interpol will be able to compete.

* Oliver Good