Although in 1996 Interpol's Paul Banks kicked off his performing career in Manhattan clubs with an acoustic guitar, his alter ego Julian Plenti discovered Pro Logic a decade later and decided to compose on a fuller, richer scale. So Plenti is yet another idiosyncratic New Yorker digitally embracing punk's original DIY aesthetic the way millions of others have around the globe; with Cubase and Garageband.
But what marks !Skyscraper out from the rest of the pleb-with-a-Mac crowd is the bold combination of seemingly incompatible genres our man throws together and the manner in which they work. Banks surely felt the same perverse satisfaction making this record as the first Hawaiian pizza chef felt when they placed ham with pineapple.
Fun That We Have began life as an acoustic number but appears here as QOTSA desert-rock doom crossed with Battles odd-pop: analogue bleeps and martial drums. Meanwhile Only If You Run is Weezer-flavoured superior college rock, but with chiming, mellifluous background noises more redolent of Brooklyn's Chairlift.
Both are better than the unintentionally hilarious Games For Days. You'd expect a song featuring Interpol's Sam Fogarino on drums to contain ominous guitar riffage. But why is Plenti singing like Jack Black doing an Ozzy Osbourne impression? Madrid Song also suffers from inappropriate blending of sounds. Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie singing is great, but does not make a killer bedfellow with drab piano.
But the Bowie fixation does blossom brightly on Fly As You Might, as shades of Beckenham's favourite son meld with Pink Floyd guitar heroics and Pixies wailing.
There are many more fine and bizarre moments on !Skyscraper, like the mysterious twanging guitar melodies on Girl On The Sporting News or the Jeffrey Lewis-via-James Blunt charm of No Chance Survival.
However, strange combinations can baffle and upset the weak of stomach and !Skyscraper is sure to test sensitive ears the same way. --Lou Thomas
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