Interpol’s hiatus has been ongoing since 2011, but lead singer Paul Banks continues to produce solo material that shows there is life beyond the band that he has fronted since 1997.

Photo: Derzsi Elekes Andor

Banks had produced one album under the name Julian Plenti in 2009 to a positive reception, and his second album, Banks, sees him move in a different direction from his previous work.

Banks’ second effort represents a significant change from the angular guitar lines and pounding drums of Interpol, particularly in the use of instrumentation.
The album begins with The Base, which for the first time introduces strings and looped keyboard sounds, showing just how far Banks is moving away from his past. Banks then settles into the main theme of the album in the second track Over My Shoulder, where he wrestles with his personal demons in a tense song that makes great use of crashing guitar melodies.

The theme of regret is one that recurs throughout, with the contrast in texture evident in Arise, Awake, a song that makes use of strings and other electronic instruments. This regret is also tinged with a desire for a return to the naivety of youth, particularly the song Young Again, where Banks evokes feelings of nostalgia.

The superb instrumental track, Lisbon, is a highlight with its rich layers of instrumentation, but the album falls away slightly in the second half, especially the frustrating Another Chance. However, ending track Summertime is Coming hints at happier times ahead as Banks looks to move forward from the gloom, and offers a message of hope as its climax.

Overall, Banks is intense in its reflections on one man’s many regrets, but some songs give the feeling that he wishes to move forward, and that he is keen to find a sunnier place in the future.