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Julian Plenti Lives... - EP

Paul Banks

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Album Review

Paul Banks' solo debut masqueraded as the work of his alter ego, Julian Plenti, but he (mostly) sets the moniker confusion straight on this EP, which is credited to Banks even as its title insists that Plenti is alive and well. Otherwise, Julian Plenti Lives follows in the vein of the underrated Julian Plenti Is Skyscraper, giving Banks a chance to explore songs that are both poppier and more experimental than his work with Interpol. Skyscraper's best moments let him stray as far as he possibly could from his band's constraints, given that Banks' voice is so distinctive — and for some fans, Interpol's defining element — and that holds true here as well. "Summertime Is Coming" reaffirms his skill with pop that's considerably cheerier and more eclectic than his day job, even if the way Banks sings "Can we waste some more time?" captures summer's bittersweet swiftness instead of fun in the sun. Meanwhile, "I'm a Fool to Want You" finds him tackling the Frank Sinatra co-written standard with aplomb, tapping into the torchy elements that often shadow Interpol's love songs in ultra-romantic, unrepentant fashion; the richness and vulnerability in Banks' vocals suggest that he could do a fine standards album if he wanted to. Julian Plenti Lives' other covers, a strings and power chord-driven version of Harold Faltermeyer's "Perimeter Deactivated" from the Running Man score and a choppy collage homage to J Dilla's "Mythsysizer," are fun, unexpected choices, but the results are less inspired. The rippling instrumental "Cavern Worship" closes out the EP with another nod to the strings and samples that help set Banks' solo work apart from his music with Interpol. Indeed, Julian Plenti Lives continues to stake new territory for Banks while coming across like an old-school EP that brackets a couple of A-game songs with intriguing and unpredictable B-sides, all while feeling looser and more natural than his previous solo efforts.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Best known as Interpol's distinctive baritone vocalist, Paul Banks was a singer/songwriter in his own right before joining that band. During the mid-'90s, he adopted the alias Julian Plenti to perform as an acoustic solo artist at New York venues such as the Knitting Factory and Tobacco Road. Around that time, Banks ran into his old friend, guitarist/vocalist Daniel Kessler, and joined his up-and-coming band Interpol. As the group worked its way from 8-track demos in the late '90s to signing with...
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Julian Plenti Lives... - EP, Paul Banks
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