“Julian Plenti Is… Skyscraper” – Julian Plenti (Joint Review)
Today I’m reviewing a side project that has really got a hold of me, it’s by Interpol’s Paul Banks and is to be released under the name Julian Plenti.
I’ve listened to a fair few side-project albums this year, but none have really kept with me and a few have even been disappointing. I guess that’s because of the high expectations we have for these albums, often we think that these people will re-create what they achieved in the band that got them to where they are.
I believe that the only way to make a great side-project is to make music that is aesthetically and musically different, and the proof is in Damon Albarn’s brainchild Gorillaz, If you’ve read the blog before then you’ll probably know of my counterpart’s dislike of Britpop, but he still does enjoy Gorillaz, which is interesting because Damon Albarn was at the very front of Britpop. What makes this side-project different is the fact that Damon Albarn transcends Britpop, because he is willing to experiment with different genres and in the process master them.
‘Julian Plenti Is… Skyscraper’ is not an album where you get what you expect, and in a way it may disappoint many people. I came to the album expecting a twist on the Interpol sound, and in general it doesn’t really achieve that, Paul Banks has made an album where it’s almost impossible to compare to Interpol, I mean, you can try, but I don’t think there’s much to be gained.
There’s two extremely distinguishable styles on the album and the first two songs follow the style that is in the minority on the album, which I must admit was a bit misleading. The split is seemingly caused by the need to write electric songs, when in reality the softer/acoustic songs are actually more enjoyable in my opinion and in the end are actually more prominent. This means that it’s definitely an album that I would advise you not to stop after the first few tracks if you dislike them, the first few songs may not be your cup of tea, but the softer songs may be and it would be a great shame for someone to miss out on these.
Paul Banks’ voice is definitely a point of interest, in that it’s more polished with this release (in relation to his recordings with Interpol) and he dabbles with double tracking which, at times, is seriously effective. Again, it really defied expectations, which added to the surprise of the album and meant that I got something that was really different and refreshing.
There is one issue with the album though, in the process of departing the Interpol sound, he seems to have left a bit of style behind. Interpol oozes style, and in my view, sums up the term cool, but Julian Plenti is just another musical act and there’s not a great deal of songs that could become popular, because they aren’t catchy or edgy enough.
There is no doubt in my mind that the quality’s here, that’s not why I think the album will largely go unnoticed, there’s an imbalance on the album and I think there’ll be too many people that dislike part of and then disregard the rest in a knee-jerk reaction.
I’m loving the album at the moment and the people who don’t listen to it are missing out, I know my counterpart has a different opinion, but I really think this is one of the growing list of better albums this year.
Stand Out Tracks: ‘H’, ‘Skyscraper’ and ‘Only If You Run’