Interpol frontman Paul Bank’s has just dropped his most (self claimed) “honest” album to date. Chucking out the moniker Julian Plenti, he is sticking with his real name for this next attempt at self realization and independence from the Interpol empire. However, it doesn’t really seem like anyone’s getting too excited about Banks the solo artist at all. As much as he tries, Paul Banks just can’t pull together the diamond grade post punk pop that he could with his band in tow. I adore Banks’ baritone pop-musicked Ian Curtis vocals, and always will – but unfortunately with this album he just sounds burnt out and uninspired. Which is a shame because that voice is a heartbreak all of it’s own, worthy of any girl’s dreams. It must be backed by killer-instincts though, not listless first world whines.
Matador Records has boasted “I Paid For That” as the stand out of the album. Awkward. To me it just sounds like a bored man getting it all off his chest in a bored way. He even quotes in his press release (which almost put me to sleep reading it), this album is about “purging and venting”. Lyrics state “Sometimes I think I co-exist with me, and one side makes me old and one side makes me struggle… Changed my full conclusion when I was 17. Sometimes I feel diminished by routine”. Le Yawn. If you are going to whinge and complain about growing older, give us a little angst and perspective damn it! This apathetic half attempt to sigh at the world just doesn’t have the gusto one might expect from a guy who has spent the last 10 years as a rock star in a pretty awesome band and dates a Danish supermodel.
It’s not all bad; ‘No Mistakes’ is an exception and offers an engaging melody accompanied by lyrics that actually have balls. “Be great, but know the strength. Be brave and show your teeth with your peace”. Banks owns himself here. He is in charge. He ceases to point the finger at the world and is willing to take a chance and also be accountable. ‘Arise, Awake’ is the strongest track on the album by far. It expands into a dreamy 70s kaleidoscope in its opening minutes to arrest the listener by the fourth verse with a 90’s alternative scowl. Then floats between the two styles to offer up a damn good composition. Unfortunately the rest of the album is samey washed out indie. The use of samples throughout the album says that Banks wants to move across musical borders but it does seem somehow misplaced. It’s just not backed with enough conceptual guts to give the attempt at this style credibility.