As someone wise once said, it's the notes you don't play that really matter. On Banks, the second solo album by Interpol frontman Paul Banks, that useful maxim seems to have been forgotten. Arise, Awake and Young Again typify the record's congested lattices of sound. At times, the listener struggles to gain purchase as electric guitar arpeggios, keyboards, sampled dialogue and annoyingly front-of-house beats duke it out.
Banks's lyrics, too, seem almost wilfully oblique - or worse, hipper-than-thou. When this record premiered on YouTube some weeks back, vague photos shot by Banks of industrial cranes and hazy cityscapes accompanied the music. This record is a puzzle, then, our host standing behind the intellectual equivalent of the velvet rope. While the standout track The Base segues from industrial hip-hop verse to a fragile, Sufjan Stevens-like bridge and the uncharacteristically joyous-sounding Over My Shoulder certainly has its hooks, too many songs here simply forget to breathe. Like his fellow NYC residents Dirty Projectors, Banks is clearly out to push rock's envelope, but on this showing he needs more time at the drawing-board.
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