[sic] Magazine

Julian Plenti …is Skyscraper

Of course Julian Plenti is… Paul Banks (of Interpol) and yet crucially, Julian Plenti is most certainly not Paul Banks of Interpol. If that sounds obtuse think of it this way. Banks first solo project since way back in the day has nothing to do with his other band. The name, Julian Plenti was a further attempt, if not at disguise or distancing himself then at least at making a clear statement. ‘I am not playing on the Interpol brand. This is something else’. Effectively he is someone else. He is Julian Plenti.

Speaking of disguise, Banks appears here on the cover art sporting the kind of facial hair that would make Plenti a shoe-in to win La Nouvelle Star. (French equivalent of Star Academy) Yet in a funny sort of way, the whole secrecy thing has backfired in the most serendipitous of ways. A ‘Who is Julian Plenti?‘ buzz picked up around New York City at first, and then the industry in general. The rumour mill kicked in – the gentlest, most accidental of hype. One can imagine Banks genuine irritation at this while his agents; his people secretly rubbed their hands.

You have been warned then. This is not a missing 4th Interpol album. Skyscraper isn’t to Our Love To Admire, what The Eraser was to In Rainbows (or any Radiohead album since OK Computer) Skyscraper is new. Skyscraper is fresh and Skyscraper is playful. There’s variety here that’d make TV on the Radio blush. Doom-laden, effected guitars are largely dispensed with in favour of electronics and acoustics. There really is the sense of someone being let out to play. I have no real idea of the internal workings of Interpol but I can easily imagine a kind of democratic, ‘we’ll only do it if we all like it, all agree it’ approach. I guess any ideas Banks had which fell outside that bands (dis)comfort zone were parked and the Julian Plenti project became the perfect outlet.

The music here is by turns lush and light-hearted. We could call it art-rock one moment and whimsical folk-driven electronica the next. We could never be wrong and we could never be right. If you need one landmark to guide and comfort you through the trauma of it all being so different, Paul still sings. Yes, that rich, tinder dry timbre is still in evidence, still worth the admission money alone.

Skyscraper is an eclectic collection. But we’ll say it one more time. Skyscraper isn’t Interpol. Skyscraper is to Interpol what Colin Newman’s A to Z or The Singing Fish were to early Wire. (I.e. Fantastic). If Banks name, voice or reputation has brought you to this point, you’re by no means alone. But like the rest of us you’ll find yourself falling through an open door to newer, richer, quirkier discoveries.

Take a chance? Or play safe?

“Shake me
shake me