Why are so many artists hiding their names behind an alias? Is it to create a certain distance to the music and the narration of their songs? To protect their own personal life and feelings from the stories in these tracks? Or maybe just because it sounds good? There are many explanations but when these artists suddenly decide to return to their native names it’s most likely because they finally find the strength and creative freedom they’ve always wished for. In the case of INTERPOL frontman PAUL BANKS his former alter ego Julian Plenti – under which name he released his 2009 solo debut Julian Plenti is … Skyscraper – had to go away for different reasons. Most likely because it was a leftover from the time before the successful era with his band. He wrote those songs way before 2002 just to finally record them seven years later. A chapter has closed, time to move on.
Now, ten years after the release of INTERPOL‘s first record, four studio albums later and in the middle of an unsure future for the group – PAUL BANKS finally found the time and strength to record his debut under the name his mother gave him. Simply entitled Banks the sophomore studio album by the charismatic songwriter from New York is full of wonderful songs and probably the most intimate portrait of the musician to date. With his specific sense for bittersweet melancholia the shy man with the unique baritone presents ten new tracks that are musically even closer to his band as the ones from Plenti were. With this specific and intense new wave/ postpunk sound in combination with BANKS‘ voice the songwriter is able to create this well-known INTERPOL-mood within the first seconds of the album opener The Base. It’s like welcoming back an old friend. A voice that gave so much hold and solace in the past and that is still capable of doing it with its intensity and feeling.
Although – due to his sinister voice – there is still this melancholia and a certain darkness within the new songs by PAUL BANKS, there is also space for hope and bright moments – well, but still in a very reflective way. BANKS‘ sings for example about his love making him feel alive once more in the track Young Again. He refers to the perishability of summer, friendship and wrong decisions in relationships – and there is this certain sense of sentimentality that draws a continuous line through the whole record. Sometimes very rough and pumping like in Over My Shoulder, sometimes quite dramatic like in Paid For That or the interesting instrumental pieces Lisbon or Another Chance. Banks shows that this man is still full of surprises, ideas and a certain hunger for new sounds. And the harmonic keynote of the longplayer is a nice and welcome alternation from PAUL BANKS previous work. Ending with Summertime Is Coming – an adorable declaration of love to this special season – the man from New York presents one of his strongest compositions to date. “Summertime is calling for you child / To give you a sense of reliance to feel at home in a crowd” – beautiful words from an incomparable songwriter. The future looks good, no matter under which alias.
indie / rock
from New York, USA
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