Paul Banks | Banks

Matador Records (2012)
By RYAN REED  |  October 24, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars


It has taken a decade, but Paul Banks has finally written his mission statement in song: "Death will come by ocean, I want that guarantee," he sings on "I Paid for That," a propulsive cut from his debut solo album. No, the Interpol frontman has never exactly been Mr. Rogers — his main band dabbles in suicidal guitar drama like a black art. But what's most surprising about Banks is its overall lack of brooding: most of these tracks boast a very un-Interpol-like playfulness, flipping through sonic textures like TV channels. Opener "The Base" finds Banks nursing his prettiest croon over glitchy electronics, mountains of guitar, and reversed Mellotron. "I'll Sue You" blends funk bass with droning strings and a vintage Interpol hook. But even though the album's zany unpredictability can be thrilling, it often feels like Banks is adorning vacant tunes ("Arise Awake," the plodding instrumental "Another Chance") with bells and whistles.
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