By Nick Manteris · 0 Comments · Leave a Comment
Is… Skyscraper is the first album from Julian Plenti, but, technically, it’s not Julian Plenti’s first album. This is because Julian Plenti is a pseudonym of Paul Banks, the lead singer from Interpol. (Another of his pseudonyms is DJ Fancypants, but that’s an entirely different story.) Banks has a distinctive – and immediately recognizable – voice, which makes the decision to use an alternate name as puzzling as the full message of the title. There must be some reason for the choice, but – whatever it is – he doesn’t seem to want to share.
"Only if You Run" starts the album off sparse and slow, but it soon builds into something else. It’s followed by the equally good, "Fun That We Have," that comes dangerously close to having too much repetition – the single worst quality of the entire album. The (almost) title track, "Skyscraper," suffers from this, and that prevents it from being as good as the first two songs. Next up is "Games for Days," a track that – even with the strange chord switch at the end – is right up there with “The Scale” and “All Fired Up” as one of the best that Banks has ever recorded. (Yes, I’m one of the people that thought Our Love To Admire was a great album…and those two songs are particularly excellent.) "No Chance Survival," "Girl on the Sporting News," and "Fly as You Might" are on the same level as the first two songs and the remainder of the album is good, but not great.
Overall, Is… Skyscraper works better – repetition and all – than Interpol’s most recent (and best) album and if someone else were singing these songs the comparison wouldn’t even come up, but it’s difficult not to think of the band when you hear that voice. Musically, though, the stuff on this album is more experimental and takes chances (like tempo and chord changes) that Plenti’s other band wouldn’t take. Sometimes taking risks pays off (not taking risks never does, ftr) and the result in this particular case is one of the best albums of 2009.