Truth is, you could easily begin spinning Julian Plenti Is…Skyscraper, disregard the album cover ‘n liner notes, and easily think that it’s the new Interpol record. There’s very little in terms of real difference between the two and, using that eyes-closed Pepsi challenge, you’ll probably end up in my voting booth: it’s better than Our Love To Admire.
Oh, okay. The drums are bigger in the mix, the guitars less refined, and the rhythms a bit more skanky, so who am I to question why this direction wasn’t pursued by the band as a whole instead of solo Paul Banks as Julian Plenti?
Speaking of, the press release goes out of its way to create the Julian Plenti name as some kind of legitimate return from an overlooked artist; it mentions nothing about Banks’ true identity or day job. That bothers me, because in my opinion the band Interpol and Banks’ involvement requires a bit of honesty and explanation after their last fiasco, and I’m not up for shelling out more of my hard-earned money to fund the member’s after-hour investments and half-assed side-projects.
Which is exactly what Skyscraper is in some respects. With every hint of sin forgiveness (“No Chance Survival,” the Interpolly opener “Only If You Run” and the curious closer “H”) there’s this nagging feeling that Banks…sorry, Plenti…is taking a piss and has released this album only because he checked his Blackberry and had a few open weeks in his schedule.
The lyrics are as abysmal as ever, essentially phrases repeated over and over, and the delivery seldom beyond a disaffected, flat tone.
Check out this gem—”Girl On The Sporting News”—to get an good idea of what’s grinding my gears: “Girl on the sporting news / I just want to tell you one thing / You’ve got the kind of sex appeal / That doesn’t get a guy like me down.” Here’s the rub, the music that this tripe is underneath is actually a nice bit of change from the standard Joy Division mope that got everyone (including me) all hot and bothered. It’s now reached a point where such standard issue instruments like pianos and strings come off like hints of new life, until we get to Plenti’s contributions which just reek of part-time dedication.
With Skyscraper, you’re left with clear signs that members of Interpol than can offer new challenges and new directions with their music, but Julian Plenti suggests that he doesn’t have the moxie to actually scale such heights.