Paul Banks returns to pursue his solo career after ditching the suave Julian Plenti moniker and keeping things quite straightforward for his second solo release: Banks.
From the outset it’s clear to see why Paul Banks has distanced himself from Julian Plenti – Banks is an entirely different beast.
Opening track – and also the first single from the record – ‘The Base’ is joyful and uplifting in its tragedy; staggered guitar portions brashly cruise over the dreamy guitar riffs that bubble under the surface of the track. Banks’ vocals are, as always, unmistakeable and the conductor of this opening track.
One particular stand-out track, ‘Over My Shoulder’, teases between the ecstasy and anguish that Banks is renowned for. Hints of synthetic effects etch in on the tracks; a sound laced throughout the album.
Unfortunately, tracks like ‘Another Chance’ really miss the target and manage to send the album off on a tangent. An irritating conversation prefaces the music and continues throughout, distracting from the music entirely.
There’s a very distinct feeling that this record projects a more wholesome and happy Paul Banks; whereas, Julian Plenti felt quite solitary and confined to Paul Banks making very sad music by himself. The crucial progression from Plenti to Banks is that the latter feels like a more inherent record that explores another side of Paul Banks, rather than an extension of Interpol.
The album closes with ‘Summertime is Coming’; a track that primed with heavy bass lines and a very dark and euphoric chorus that eventually breaks down to Banks singing alone with an acoustic guitar.
Although this is basically a great album, it’s not the greatest album; certainly a product that shows Paul Banks to be as versatile with his music as he is with his solo project names. This whole record seems to embrace a new side to Paul Banks.
Maybe this record is too big a change? The soundscapes on The Base paint a future Banks that people aren’t ready for. People like bleak Banks. People like sad, disparagingly, bitter songs and this record is tantalising in its use of misery – perhaps not a bad thing but it’s not characteristically Banks.